Geoff Peters, 1980
This song debuted, “unofficially,” at the Summer Conference to help lobby delegates about the issues around pensions, and motivate them to encourage their members to take stronger action.
Teachers had a one-day pension strike in 1971 because retirees were literally starving. The government had been using pension contributions to fund the building of provincial infrastructure, especially dams. Rather than putting the necessary money into the fund, the government promised to index pensions, and since they were the government, would guarantee to fund pensions for teachers in the future.
A decade later, under Social Credit Premier Bill Bennett and Finance Minister Evan Wolfe, the government decided to remove indexing for teachers because other unions were demanding the same, and the business community was opposed to it.
Many locals wanted to take job action over pensions, but the BCTF Executive was split. Some thought members would be reluctant to strike, and others were unsure teachers would support necessary job action. A letter writing campaign and lobbying actions were undertaken. A number of locals started gathering support for calling a Special RA to force a decision on job action. Surrey teachers walked out at 12:00 on November 19, 1980 and gathered at the historic Fort Langley, where BC Cabinet was holding a photo opportunity Cabinet meeting. The Full Indexing Song, and others, were performed from an impromptu stage in the bed of a pickup.
Teachers from Surrey and Burnaby walked out December 4 and rallied at the Legislature in Victoria. A week later teachers from Coquitlam, Langley, New Westminster, and Vancouver Elementary and Secondary walked out and rallied at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, marched through downtown and rallied again on the steps of the Vancouver Court House. Other locals around the province had their own walkouts in their communities. An evening rally was held at the Orpheum Theatre for metro locals that had not withdrawn services on the previous days of action.
After that, a campaign to convince members to support strong action on pensions was developed with rallies across the province. A provincial road trip with the BCTF President Al Blakey was organized, and The Full Indexing Song was performed by some of our group at venues like Terrace, Prince George and elsewhere. This song, and others written by teachers all over BC, was used by local teacher singers to educate, motivate and even entertain at campaign events.
The outcome was an agreement for government and teachers to set up an inflation adjustment account (IAA) to which both sides would contribute. Pensions would be indexed as long as there was money in the IAA.