Striking Teachers Rally At The Vancouver Art Gallery
Striking teachers of BC rally at the downtown Vancouver art gallery today. Many speaker gave extremely heartfelt speeches including Barry O’Neill shown above.
The B.C. Teachers Federation says the provinces 41,000 teachers will be back in the classrooms on Thursday, but will continue their previous job action and could exercise their right to strike again next week.
The teachers walked out Monday to protest the government’s back-to-work legislation, which was introduced in the legislature last week. Elsewhere in the province, striking teachers are expected to gather outside schools to protest Bill 22 on Wednesday.
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert told the crowd gathered at the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery the bill would remove teachers’ collective bargaining rights until June 2013.
“I think it’s either very cynical politics or maybe they’re gaining some remarkable insight, because of course, they’re government in free-fall, the likelihood of this government surviving to June 2013 resembles that of the proverbial snowflake in hell.”
A sea of cheering and placard-waving B.C. striking teachers capped off three days of striking this week with the rally. The crowd filled the plaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery today (March 7) and expressed opposition to provincial back-to-work legislation. Bill 22 would suspend legal strike action by teachers and appoint a mediator in an effort to resolve the contract dispute.
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert said the proposed legislation would take away bargaining rights and impose “mock mediation”. “The people of B.C. demand from their government that it respects the work that teachers do. It demands that the B.C. government respects and values public education,” Lambert told the rally. “They want this dispute to be resolved respectfully, with dignity, [and] at the table with a fair, negotiated deal with teachers.”
Education Minister George Abbott has defended Bill 22 as a reasonable response to the labour unrest that will allow for a “cooling off” period. Lambert has told media that teachers will return to the classroom on Thursday after they walked off the job on Monday. Limited job action launched last fall is expected to continue.
Under a recent Labour Relations Board ruling, teachers will still have the right to fully withdraw services on one day a week, with notice, in coming weeks.