BC teachers strike: parents support teachers over government as job action begins

BC teachers strike: parents support teachers over government as job action begins

May 26, 2014 – A survey of British Columbia adults reveals public support is tipping towards teachers as rotating strikes begin in a labour dispute between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Government.

The online survey, conducted May 23-24, 2014 – as British Columbians prepared for job action in public schools – shows 41 per cent of respondents are most inclined to support teachers in the dispute, compared to just under one-third (30%) who back the BC Government.

Support rises to just over half (51%) among parents or direct caregivers of children in the school system compared to 28 per cent of parents who say they support government. One-fifth (22%) of all respondents say neither side deserves support. 15 per cent of parents with children in public school feel the same way.

Awareness & Impact:

Awareness levels are high when it comes to the labour dispute – 61 per cent of all respondents say they are following the issue. This rises to three-quarters (77%) among parents and caregivers.

When asked about the expected impact the one-day rotating strikes would have on parents and their families, 62% said the job action would have an impact, but they would be able to manage around it. About one-fifth (17%) of parents said the strikes would have a “major impact”.

What parents say:

Among parents with children in school, 56 per cent say the strikes are reasonable, versus 44 per cent who say they’re unreasonable. This compares to slightly less support among all respondents (47% reasonable, 53% unreasonable).

When it comes to the reasonableness of the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s counter-move to lock out teachers two-thirds of BC respondents (65%) believe the lockouts are unreasonable – an opinion that is stronger among parents (69%).

05.26.14-BC-Teachers-StrikeParents with children in public schools support the teachers’ right to strike more than all respondents do (58% of parents saying teachers should have the right to strike versus 48% of all respondents saying the same).

There is also majority support among parents for binding arbitration rather than negotiated settlements to settle contract disputes between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Government. 57 per cent of parents (vs. 54% of all respondents) believe this and future deals should be settled through arbitration rather than through negotiation.

Results cut along political lines, but past BC Liberal voters more split on some issues:

As with many public policy issues in British Columbia; the survey results cut along polarized party lines. Past NDP voters say they support teachers three-to-one over past BC Liberal voters (62% to 22%). Conversely, past BC Liberal voters back the province four-to-one over past NDP voters (51% vs. 13%). About the same number of voters from both parties say neither side has their support (19% past NDP voters, 21% past Liberal voters).

On the reasonableness of teacher’s job action, British Columbians are split overall (47% reasonable vs. 53% unreasonable) – but political affiliations drive opinion: two-thirds (67%) of past NDP voters see the strikes as reasonable, while three-quarters (73%) say the strikes are unreasonable.

While 77 per cent of past NDP voters are firm in their belief of the unreasonableness of the lockouts (vs. 23% reasonable), opinion among past BC Liberal voters is more divided, and leaning against the BCSPEA’s actions. Just over half (53%) say the lockouts are unreasonable, while just under half (47%) say reasonable.

On the issue of teachers’ right to strike, support again falls along party lines. However, on the question of whether teachers’ contracts should be settled through binding arbitration – of note – more past BC Liberal voters (62%) support this than do past NDP voters (50%), even though arbitration may results in better settlements for unions and even though it takes control over the final result completely away from government.

Click here for detailed results, charts, tables and methodology

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