Will a labour dispute disrupt your child’s school year?

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Should you be concerned about a labour dispute interrupting your child’s school year?

We’re exploring that question with experts as teachers and B.C. begin eight-day talks — and the general sense is, there’s no need for any immediate worry.

“Taking job action at the beginning of school is not likely to occur, and if it were to occur, it would probably affect the good relationship that teachers have with parents and students,” says UBC Professor Emeritus Charles Ungerleider, a former deputy minister of education.

That’s echoed by Professor Fiona McQuarrie at the University of the Fraser Valley, an expert in labour issues.

“It’s probably way too early in the process for a strike, labour stoppage or withdrawal to be talked about,” says McQuarrie. “There have been ideas being put back and forth before this, but this is the very early stage of negotiations. Unless things went off the rails really quickly, which I think is unlikely, I doubt there will be any threat of a strike action in the next little while.”

But with the NDP government in power, can we expect a different tone than what at times appeared to be a strained relationship between the BC Liberal government and the BC Teachers Federation?

“I think it changes [the tone] in terms of climate, I’m not sure it changes it in terms of substance,” says Ungerleider. “When the Liberals took power in 2001, they were quite hostile to teachers and they stripped the contract. It’s unlikely the NDP is perceived [to be] as hostile as the Liberals were as a result of the actions they took.”

Talks carry on for eight days, with Ungerleider suggesting negotiations could continue throughout the school year if required.

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