With rotating strikes by the BC Teachers Federation set to begin Monday, Premier Christy Clark should skip her party’s glitzy convention in Kelowna this weekend and get back to work finding a real solution to the dispute her government has created, CUPE BC President Mark Hancock said today.
“I’m sure it’s more comfortable for a politician like Ms. Clark to spend the weekend with BC Liberal party faithful than to do the hard work necessary to conclude a fair and respectful collective agreement. But Ms. Clark wasn’t elected Premier simply to preside over the easy stuff like Liberal conventions,” said Hancock. “She should be at her desk this weekend, meeting with BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers’ Association) and giving her negotiators a mandate to actually get a deal done instead of continuing to play high-stakes poker—with kids and their families as her chips.”
Hancock said that all CUPE members in BC, including the 27,000 CUPE members working in public schools, would respect any and all picket lines.
“Given the chaos this government has created in recent days, we fully expect there to be confusion and uncertainty around schools starting on Monday, but the bottom line for CUPE is, we don’t cross picket lines,” said Hancock. “Our members were there for teachers in the past, just as teachers were prepared to support us last year when we were on the verge of a strike during a difficult round of bargaining.
“The only thing needed to avert school closures starting next week is the political will on the part of Christy Clark and the BC Liberal government to solve the situation rather than make it worse,” said Hancock. “But it appears they’d rather fight than negotiate. It’s hard to see how that’s ‘putting families first’.”
CUPE represents 27,000 workers in the K-12 sector across British Columbia.