Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Oct. 17, 2005)

The Teachers' Strike: Consider This

John Pifer

After a couple of weeks of anger, rhetoric, exaggeration and misinformation from both sides in this damned teachers’ strike, some points to consider that may help you, dear reader(s) to understand why we are in this mess in the first place:

  • The leaders of the BC Teachers’ Federation appear to have had this planned walkout in mind for many months – refusing to negotiate in any meaningful way, whilst wasting millions of dollars attempting to unseat the provincial Liberal government in the May election.

  • For its part, the government has done everything it can to disrespect and denounce the BCTF leaders, in anticipation of the strike.  Its contention that the bullying tactics were the work of a few hard-left militants that run the federation is difficult to dispute. The Liberals’ demonizing of the teacher’ leaders has not worked as well as they thought, with more than half of British Columbians still professing to support the teachers’ illegal action.

  • This correspondent has no doubt that the “solidarity” BS from other public-sector unions is part of the long-term campaign for the negotiations of new contracts looming early in the new year. Threats of a general strike and the sustained breaking of the law and contempt of court by the teachers is just the beginning of unrest. The thinking goes that the government will have to cave in and pay out more money and add more benefits rather than create more conflict and damage to the overall economy, which is booming.

  • It is no coincidence that the militancy in this province from trade unions is always from the public sector unions – i.e. the workers who are paid by the taxpayers, and who are often paid twice the going rate that it would cost in the private sector, and who receive more benefits, perks and paid time off than any legitimate workers.

  • Many teachers consider themselves upper-crust professionals, yet they allow their leadership to operate as a trade union, seeking to have the best of both worlds. The result is this offensive strike that is damaging the education of our young people, the students who have been ignored in this whole dispute. Unless the silent majority speaks up and the rules that say a pubic-school teacher must be a BCTF member are changed, the tail will always wag this dog.

  • The government is just as accountable, if not contemptible, for its holier-than-thou imposition of legislation designed to force the teachers back to work. Several hundred other contracts have been settled in recent years through sincere effort and negotiation, which has been absent in this dispute.

  • If the hysterical BCTF boss Jenny Sims likens herself once more to Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks or Lech Walesa or Mother Teresa, it is to be hoped that the news media will laugh out loud, rather than to continue to give that kind of crapola any credibility.

  • Has anyone noticed that there have been millions more dollars spent in education in the past few years, despite the fact that there are fewer students?

  • Has anyone noticed that class sizes are not much different that they have been for a decade or more, and that dumping special needs kids and ESL students into the general student population is an experiment that has gone very sour, very fast? That extra pressure on the teachers is as unfair as is the dilution of quality education to the students. But I can’t say that, because it’s politically incorrect … go figure.

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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