Friday, June 3, 2011

Back to the Future? Will the Liberals under Christy be at war with public sector workers?

It seems like a distant bad dream, but it was not so long ago that a newly elected BC Liberal government went to war with BC's public sector workers. After a promise that they would "not rip up contracts", they proceeded to do just that. They contracted out, privatized, and instituted wage roll-backs.

After massive protest movements, lengthy court battles, and a steady drop in the polls, they backed off somewhat. In 2006, the approach was a little different, with modest wage increases, and a signing bonus, in exchange for "labour peace" during the Olympics.

When Gordon Campbell's approval rating plummeted to 9% and he finally resigned, there was hope for something different. The reversal on the minimum wage, fees for parking in provincial parks, and a generally more conciliatory tone signaled a new approach.

But lately, I am feeling that these are a chimera, a cheap gloss over a return to the Liberals of yester-year. And I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given that those are the only years Christy was there.

The Liberals have refused the recommendations of an independent report on judges salaries. Even though the recommendations kept within the wage freeze mandate, they will not be implemented.

The Liberals have put nothing but concessions on the table with the BCTF. Bargaining is proceeding at a glacial pace, and there is no sign that the government will be restoring class sizes for the fall even after a stinging rebuke from the Courts.

On top of this, it appears likely that there may be significant changes to education policy without any consideration for the issues raised by teachers in regard to workload, class size and composition and the terrible shortage of specialist teachers.

The first term of Liberal government saw massive change in government. Reorganization, restructuring, dismantling. But nothing improved. We had better be ready to stop the "replay" button if that is what's coming again.

No comments:

Post a Comment