Monday, October 10, 2005

Striking B.C. Teachers Found 'In Contempt'

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Striking B.C. teachers vowed to continue their "wildcat" strike Tuesday, despite a B.C. Supreme Court decision ruling the walk-out illegal and holding the B.C. Teachers Federation in contempt of court.

Striking B.C. Teachers Found 'In Contempt'
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
October 11, 2005

Citing "anarchy" and the end of society as we know it, B.C. Justice Nancy Brown Sunday ruled in favour of a B.C. Public School Employers Association application to the court to rule the teacher's walkout illegal under the terms of a B.C. Labour Relations Board finding.

"No citizen or group of citizens may choose which orders they may obey," said Justice Brown. The Justice continued, expressing concern for the foundation of the law and western society, saying if the teacher strike was allowed to go unchallenged, "anarchy cannot be far behind."

BCTF predisent, Jinny Sims is so far unbowed by the bench order, saying: "The actions we're taking do not signal any disrespect for the law. Rather, we are engaging in a political protest against the provincial government and its unjust legislation." Sims says she's tried to set up a meeting with Labour Minister, Mike De Jong to continue serious talks, but promises without resolution of issues on the table, the strike will continue.

"It is going to take a resolution to our three issues for the schools to be open on Tuesday," Sims says.

Justice Brown has ordered BCTF representatives appear in court Thursday when she will decide penalties. This could mean fines levied against the union, and possibly jail time for its executive members.

Friday's walkout came following provincial legislation rammed through the legislature over the protestations of the opposition New Democrats. The NDP staged an all-night filibuster against enactment of the Bill that freezes teacher's wages until mid-2006.

The BCTF is seeking smaller class sizes, wage increases, and recognition of their right to collective bargaining.

B.C. teachers have suffered imposed contracts four times since 1993. The Liberal government passed legislation in 2001 making education an essential service and banning strikes.

The union represents approximately 42,000 members. Friday's walkout was endorsed by more than 90% of the membership.

The dispute effects about 600,000 students in B.C. and their families.

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