Teach­ers should go on strike. Find out why.

Work-to-rule is the best pos­si­ble ar­range­ment for the side of gov­ern­ment ne­go­tia­tors

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - Ray Mor­ri­son Ray Mor­ri­son is a re­tired teacher who lives in River Ryan. He can be con­tacted at raynita@bel­laliant.net.

Con­cern­ing the dis­pute be­tween the Prov­ince of Nova Sco­tia and its Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers Union, I be­lieve the lead­ers ne­go­ti­at­ing this dis­pute on be­half of the Teach­ers’ Union are ap­par­ently just as ig­no­rant of the true de­mands of the prov­ince’s teach­ers as are those rep­re­sent­ing our gov­ern­ment.

For the third time now, these peo­ple have col­lec­tively rec­om­mended ac­cep­tance of new con­tract terms which seem to me as both in­sult­ing and in­dif­fer­ent to the gen­uine class­room needs of our stu­dents and the very core de­mands of rank-and­file class­room teach­ers in our prov­ince.

Judg­ing by pre­vi­ous vote re­sults, the vast ma­jor­ity of ac­tive teach­ers agree with this state­ment.

In most unions, when union lead­er­ship rec­om­mends ac­cep­tance of a new con­tract and the sub­se­quent vot­ing rejects these terms, it is deemed as a vote of non-con­fi­dence in their lead­er­ship and they are obliged to re­sign. A vote is then taken in which these lead­ers are ei­ther re-elected or re­placed by a new slate of of­fi­cers in whom the mem­ber­ship does have con­fi­dence. In this case, it is their third kick-at-the–can. WHAT NOW?

I have been told that as a re­tired teacher, I have no “say” in these ne­go­ti­a­tions. I beg to dif­fer! I have three well-loved grand­sons who at­tend Nova Sco­tia schools. One of these boys hopes to grad­u­ate this June. So, I am very con­cerned with the out­comes of this dis­pute.

Since I am also a cit­i­zen of this prov­ince and the gov­ern­ment is sup­posed to rep­re­sent my in­ter­ests. I there­fore claim every right to ex­press my opin­ions on the course and flow of dis­cus­sions.

Next, I of­fer my per­spec­tive on work-to-rule as a tac­tic in this dis­pute. It will never work in the teach­ers fa­vor. The only thing work-to-rule is likely to do is pro­long the dis­pute, anger par­ents and frus­trate stu­dents to the point of giv­ing up.

I can see where this tac­tic is the best pos­si­ble ar­range­ment for the side of gov­ern­ment ne­go­tia­tors. They have to do noth­ing but sit back and, even­tu­ally, watch it all ex­plode in the faces of teach­ers who to­day find them­selves in un­ten­able class­room sit­u­a­tions.

Keep in mind that Nova Sco­tia teach­ers have al­ready worked, without in­ter­rup­tion of any kind, for two years past the ex­piry of their last con­tract. There­fore any new con­tract will span four years not two. I think this would be an ideal op­por­tu­nity for the union to take a stance that, in fu­ture, on the day the con­tract ex­pires there will be no work, man­dated or vol­un­teer, done by any of its mem­ber­ship un­til a new con­tract has been rat­i­fied.

When I re­tired 15 years ago, the down­ward slide had al­ready be­gun for teach­ers in this prov­ince and it has not got­ten any bet­ter. In fact, for class­room teach­ers, the down­load on teach­ers of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, which have lit­tle to do with class­room in­struc­tion and stu­dent learn­ing, has only es­ca­lated. So-called “in­clu­sion” had been man­dated without suf­fi­cient plan­ning, fund­ing, re­source per­son­nel or suf­fi­cient ma­te­ri­als to give it a hope-in-hell of work­ing. The “no fail­ure” poli­cies are an ab­so­lute dis­as­ter; reg­u­lar at­ten­dance is stu­dent-op­tional and class­room deco­rum and dis­ci­pline are at an all-time low.

I know, too, that the amount of time teach­ers spend on pa­per work, that no­body will ever likely read, is truly wasted.

For what it’s worth, I per­son­ally would ad­vise our teach­ers not to re­sume work-to-rule. Rather, they should go on strike and do it now.

By tak­ing a firm stand now for your­selves and for all of those stu­dents who are at the core of your vo­ca­tion you can only reap ben­e­fits now and well into the fu­ture. These stu­dents had no part in cre­at­ing the scholas­tic quag­mire that has been brew­ing for too many years and the gov­ern­ment would love noth­ing bet­ter than to see the teach­ers ac­cept an­other two days off per year. You would even loose my sup­port if you were to ac­cept swal­low­ing that camel.

Of course, I know if you do strike, it is more than likely that you will very soon be leg­is­lated back to work by a gov­ern­ment that has pledged, once again, to look into union griev­ances if you ac­cept their of­fer. They were look­ing when I re­tired! Teach­ers will not get what they need and stu­dents will not get what they de­serve but at least both will be able to hold their heads high.

The premier has once again of­fered a study into all these mat­ters. It is not nec­es­sary. How many stud­ies were done into the Syd­ney Steel Plant and how did that work out? How many more study groups will it take be­fore the prov­ince fi­nally re­al­izes that much of its di­rect in­volve­ment in ed­u­ca­tion has been counter-pro­duc­tive?

Let the teach­ers teach. With the in­put and ad­vice of con­cerned par­ents/guardians and ap­pro­pri­ate spe­cial­ists, it is the class­room teacher who best sees what is needed to en­able them to suc­cess­fully ed­u­cate the stu­dents who face them every school day. These teach­ers are the best source of di­rec­tion if there is any true in­tent to lis­ten and act upon the ad­vice that is­sues from these Union-Prov­ince con­sul­ta­tions.

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