Students returned to school earlier this week, but an unresolved dispute between the teachers and the province hangs over the classrooms.
At present, teachers are in the teach-only phase of a job action.
This means classes are still in session, but the teachers are not attending meetings with the administration, nor are they supervising activities outside the classroom.
The teachers have legitimate concerns which must be addressed and resolved fairly.
If the dispute is not settled quickly, a strike is likely to follow. This would have severe repercussions.
When teachers or any other public employees go on strike, the results are noticeable. At a private business, when a labour dispute is not resolved and a strike ensues, the employer and employees are affected until the dispute is resolved. Customers who need a product or service may seek out a competitor.
When a public service union strikes, all who use the services will feel the effects.
Going to a competitor is not an option in most cases since the public services have little outside competition.
There are around 540,000 students in British Columbia, almost all of them under the public school system. Private schools and home schooling account for small percentages of B.C. students.
During a teachers’ strike, almost all students and their families will be all affected.
Parents who need to find child care services on short notice will have a daunting task. If a strike continues long enough, it will affect summer schedules for the students and by extension for their families.
If a dispute drags on, the public will lose sympathy for the teachers and become incresingly frustrated with the province. Both sides stand to lose if a quick and fair settlement is not reached.
No matter how this matter is resolved, the needs of the students must come first.