Monday, March 05, 2012

The BC Teachers' Regressive Labour Strike

In 2010 the British Columbia Teachers' Federation declared its opposition to the HST because it was a regressive tax, affecting the poor and families more than the wealthy and corporations.

Yesterday the BCTF went on strike and while the cost for childcare and sports programs is easily covered by rich families, the cost is a much larger share of a poor families income and therefore a much larger burden.

Monday, the first day of the strike, was a fairly mild day in Kelowna and yet few kids were seen in yards and on the street in the middle class neighbourhoods. A trip to poorer areas filled with subsidized housing offered an explanation. In these neighbourhoods it looked like recess, the reason of course was that these families can't afford sports or swimming programs and additional daycare. All the parents can do is miss work, look after their kids, and hope the labour dispute ends soo before the bills pile up even higher.

The BCTF opposed the HST because it was regressive tax yet the union started a regressive strike that is affecting poor families, in money and resources, more than rich ones. How can BC teachers who opposed the HST because of its impact on poor families support and carry out a strike that disproportionately harms poor families?

It's hard to decide whether the HST or the teachers' strike will hurt poor families more, but at least with the HST the poor got a rebate and a say in repealing it.

Perhaps to avoid future apparent contradictions the BCTF should stay out of politics and focus on education; maybe then, instead of being seen like potential political opponents, they would be seen like the educators they are and get the resources they deserve.

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