Despite students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) returning to classes last week, the climate between faculty unions and the provincial government remains chilly as ever.
First, there’s the simple fact that, despite the strike at the Nainaimo university being over, the main issue—that of job security—has yet to been resolved. That sticking point will be handled by a mediator over the next month, though there’s no guarantee of any agreement being reached. While most are clamoring for the two sides to resolve their issues, budgetary realities will keep them at loggerheads for some time to come.
Secondly, over in Langara, the passive-aggressive pseudo-strike continues, with the faculty continuing to withhold grades as a bargaining tactic.
Adding to the whole “educators vs. government” narrative, last week the BC Supreme Court struck down a provincial law that restricted teachers’ bargaining rights. The decision made front-page news, partially due to the fact that the Minister of Education at the time of the bill’s implementation was Christy Clark—who just so happens to be Premier.
Good news? Well at Kwantlen, contract negotiations are set to start up again between the university and faculty union.
But add it all together, and you have a provincial climate of labour unrest among educators and a whole spate of public sector contracts currently in need of renewal. Factor in the election of Adrian Dix as NDP leader, a candidate considered the most labour-friendly of the four candidates running, and it’s fair to expect the general issue of workers’ bargaining rights will become a political hot potato.
In short, one gets a looming sense that the issue of teachers’ rights and benefits are something that will play out on a campaign, rather than backroom, stage.