Teachers should go on strike. Find out why.
Work-to-rule is the best possible arrangement for the side of government negotiators
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.