Pinoy students caught in teachers, gov't dispute in British Columbia

By Isabelle Docto, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at Jun 24 2014 03:39 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2014 11:39 PM

VANCOUVER – The battle between the B.C. Teacher's Federation (BCTF) and the B.C. government over contract negotiations has left many consequences.

Disagreement over wages, class sizes and composition led to rotating strikes in May. This escalated to a full-scale strike last week after a failed weekend bargaining session with the B.C. government.

Teaching and learning on all levels of education were affected as school ended earlier than usual.

"Obviously, none of us want to be here today. We all want to be in our classrooms," said elementary school teacher, Bart Braun.

Grade 12 students who needed their final exam marks in order to get into an undergraduate program found themselves in the middle of the crossfire.

"Us students in grade 12 have been worrying about if we should study or not for provincial exams," said Jhunathan Bonzo.

Another Grade 12 student, Valerie Balagbis, added, "Sa finals ko rin may mga test required sa college and medyo delayed ako doon like hindi ako makapasok ng college for that."

Balagbis's mother is concerned about the consequences the strike has had on her daughter's future.

"So papaano naman nga makakapunta yung estudyante para mag-register sa mga university if they don't have enough requirements?" Elvie Balagbis said.

The BCTF and the B.C. government have had a long history of differences and the public want a resolution so they can concentrate on what's important: the students.

"Public, I really urge you to talk, but not just talk, but learn more info, not just hear one side, hear both sides and decide for yourself, but listen to this: It's for the kids," said elementary school teacher, Rich Abarquez.

BCTF's president Jim Iker said in a news conference last Monday that they cut their salary demands eight percent over five years, but with a $5,000 signing bonus.

The government put a lower wage offer on the table going from their previous offer of 7.25 percent to seven percent with a $1,200 signing bonus.

For now, education is on lockdown as negotiations continue.