Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Oct. 31, 2005)

Teachers' Strike Fallout

  By John Martin

What can one say about the recent teacherís strike?  It certainly came as no surprise.  During the election, Gordon Campbell stated that the teachers were going to hold a strike vote shortly after the campaign.  The BCTF called him a liar and commenced legal action for his slanderous comments.  Then they held the strike vote they denied they were going to hold.  And all of this passes by as quite routine in a province where the official opposition sits at the pleasure of the public sector and trade unions.

The teachers are back at work and weíll have to wait and see what type of contract settlement comes out of the process.  It will be interesting watching the fallout though.  Schools have taken a leadership role in developing anti-bullying curriculum in the past few years.  Yet, they bullied many of their more reasoned colleagues to partake in the illegal activity.  Even though the labor code prohibits unions from punishing members who refuse to break the law, it was clearly stated that any teacher who chose to obey the law and cross the picket line would be in for a rough ride down the line.  Doesnít that sound eerily similar to the schoolyard threats kids hear from their peers when theyíre reluctant to join in vandalism or some other criminal activity?  

Teachers may also find it difficult to enforce the few rules that still exist in the public school system.  Iím curious to see how educators will handle difficult students who have decided theyíre going to pick and choose the rules they intend to adhere to.  A lot of restrictions donít make sense when youíre ten and twelve years old.  By the time youíre fourteen, some of them are downright nuts.  If enough students decide itís okay to break a rule you donít agree with, there could be more than a couple messy terms down the road.

And can someone help me out here on another item, please?  Apparently the illegal strike involved 38,000 teachers walking off the job and leaving 600,000 students without classes.  Now I am not, nor have I ever been, a math whiz.  But when I took grade six algebra that meant each teacher would have an average of less than sixteen students.  So how did we get all these unmanageably large classrooms? 

The long and short is that the job action was political and yet another refusal by the left to accept the results of the most recent provincial election.  The teachers never demanded any ridiculous 15% raise when the NDP was in power.  And they certainly didnít engage in any illegal job action when the NDP legislated them back to work.  The BCTF spends more time talking about Iraq, global warming, Israel, and their hero, Fidel Castro than they do about the real issues facing the public school system.  Iím surprised they havenít advocated safe injection sites on school property yet.

Guess I shouldnít give them any more ideas.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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