It’s an exciting week in Nelson area schools. Students are settling in with new teachers and the air of anticipation for a great 2013-14 year hangs thick in classrooms.
Though it didn’t show up in the first day of school snapshots taken on front steps all over town, the bigger picture entering this week is a little clouded. The threat of CUPE job action next week has school officials, teachers and parents concerned. They should be.
Labour disputes are never easy. When you factor children into the equation, these standoffs become even more troubling. Children are the biggest pawn in this current game being played between the union and the BC government. It’s unfair, but that’s the reality.
We’re not picking sides. As with all disputes involving public sector employees, both government and union have valid reasons for letting the situation reach this point. For CUPE, it’s fighting for what they feel is fair. For the government, it’s trying to make a system work without squeezing the taxpayer even more.
What can’t be lost in this dispute is that the education system requires teamwork. Teachers may be the ones who carry the puck and score the goals, but they don’t get there without assists from the rest of their teammates.
CUPE workers in the education system provide bus drivers, teaching assistants, secretaries, custodians, IT workers and more. Without these support workers, the system doesn’t function. Without these teammates, there is no team.
We hope cooler heads prevail and talks go smoothly this week. Both sides need to take a step back and do what’s right. It will require shovels to dig out of positions and compromise.
We don’t need another disruption to our children’s education. It’s not fair to play games with young lives. This dispute needs to end without any disruption to students.