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If teachers go back to work it will put more pressure on government: labour expert

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A UVIC professor with deep roots in the labour movement says teachers will be better off if they are back in the classroom next week.

John Fryer, who is also the former president of the BC Government Employees Union, acknowledges that some may believe sending them back to work would reduce pressure on the government.

But he thinks it would do the opposite. “In my view it would so increase public opinion on the side of the teachers that the government would have no alternative than to come back to the bargaining table and settle the dispute.”

Fryer refers to a time in the 80s when the Bennett government and organized labour were at odds.

“When we struck the entire province of British Columbia…after two weeks on the picket line we went back to work. Because we weren’t at war with the people of the province and we didn’t want to withhold the services that the people needed. Our beef was with the government so there’s nothing to stop the teachers from going back to work and delivering education to our kids.”

He says if he were head of the BCTF, teachers would be teaching on September 2nd. “I think that the parents and the children or the students do want an end to the dispute so why don’t the teachers help bring about an end to it.”

Meanwhile News1130 has obtained a copy of a survey sent out to teachers in Surrey. In it, they are asked the following:

If a deal is not reached before September, should BCTF members:
(Please select one option from the list below. You may include additional ideas in the “Other” box.)

-continue with the full walk-out.

-return to rotating strikes (one day per week) and Stage One on non-rotating days.

-return to Stage One only.

-begin a full withdrawal of extra-curricular activities.

Results of the survey have not been shared with members but the BCTF has decided to ramp up picketing this week with all schools expected to be hit next week.

The government has lifted the lockout until September 2nd but in a letter, teachers are told that those who enter district sites will be considered to be crossing the picket line.