Massaging the Message

massage the message

I like massages. I like the complete and total relaxation they give me. I like that for an hour at least, there is less labour in breathing, in being. Once after a particularly stressful semester, I had to have massages weekly just so that I could sleep at night. My body was in so much pain, having twisted itself into several knots in response to unrelenting stressful situations in the classroom.

At first when the tweets and comments about the $3000 massages began to surface I ignored them. That was such a preposterous accusation surely everyone knew that teachers would not be asking for a luxuries like spa massages. But the tweets persisted, not unlike the pain I experience when I know I need a massage!

And then I began to pay attention to them. I could not believe the malice, the meanness in the deliberate twisting of our proposal to increase the amount of massages someone who experienced chronic pain and discomfort could claim.

Why would anyone want to deny someone who was suffering from fibromyalgia some relief so that they could do their job?

But the disparaging remarks about massages kept spewing all over social media.  The taunts about them could  not be quelled. The onslaught came to a peak when the Premier took to broadcast media to amplify the discrediting of teachers who dared to request physician-prescribed massages.  She was so indignant about this proposal from teachers she displayed her disdain over and over again throughout the broadcast.

But her disdain was based on incorrect information.

Teachers had not requested unlimited massages. That was what was already granted to another public sector union. A union that the Premier had already signed a contract with. A public sector union whose unlimited massages was somehow well within the “affordability zone”.

When they learned of this, citizens were confused…. If unlimited massages were within the “affordability zone” for one public sector union,  why was the teachers’ request for a modest increase in the number of massages available to them outside of this  “zone”?

If the Premier was insisting that the teachers’ proposals were in line with what other public sector unions were getting, how did the unlimited massages she had granted to other public sector unions make sense in light of her response to the teachers’ proposal?

So much confusion for the BC citizen/taxpayer as they watched the premier massage her message about fiscal constraints.

I can imagine that it could cause quite a few knots of tension to develop in the bodies of citizens who voted for a premier who would at the very least be well-informed about the salient issues at stake in the billion dollar negotiations with teachers.

One would expect, given all the assistants and secretaries who work on her behalf, that the premier would have accurate information available to her. One would expect that at the very least those assistants ensured that their boss did not make a fool of herself in front of the entire province.

But on Wednesday, 3rd September, 2014, it became clear that one would be expecting too much.

Information is an interesting thing. It can so easily be manipulated and twisted and turned into something that does not actually inform but instead misinforms, disinforms. Orwell had much to say in this regard.

Information can sometimes reveal the truth but it can also distort it, turn attention away from what is actually going on.

Information can be a distraction. Pay attention to what the Kardashians are doing and you will miss the civil war in the Congo.

Pay attention to what the  BC government calls the unaffordable demands of  teachers and you may miss the fact that the government considers Education Assistants and Learning Specialist teachers as salary benefits for teachers. A salary benefit in the same way a nurse would be considered a salary benefit if doctors would allow the premier to get away with that twisted logic.

And if you pay attention to all the ruckus about massages, you may miss the fact that teachers are being asked to give up their Charter Rights in exchange for a promise of better learning conditions for students.

No amount of massaging a political message can detract from that fact.

But are you paying attention?

12 thoughts on “Massaging the Message”

  1. Wow. Well said. After watching Christy, I find myself massaging my temples I’m frustration. I only hope the general public can see through her lies…


  2. i am backing the teachers but unless it is a physically needed massage for relief of an injury I cannot accept any worker getting massages. at public expense. we all have stress for gods sake. deal with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Read the proposal again, altho now off the table – it was for “recommended by a doctor”- or are we going to bash doctor’s opinions too?


    2. Do you have back injuries from lifting wheelchair children off & on toilets,or holding down & calming a out of control child with ADHD or down’s syndrome or the many other back breaking tasks they have to perform daily without the extra classroom help that the Government is refusing them..Add that was already taken off the table before the press conference………


  3. The massage phrase was “slipped” into her speech to further wind up the public who think that teachers are greedy, demanding, self-entitled, over-paid members of society, that the strike is solely their fault, and that they are the only reason why their kids aren’t in school today. The “unlimited massage” comment is manipulation at it’s lowest level. Look at the MLAs benefit package. Look at their wastefulness and scandal. Look at their invisibility or stock form-letter answers when dealing with their constituents. I don’t see teachers and others given equal mainstream media coverage–those that actually UNDERSTAND what the dispute is based on, i.e. those who are in a better position to explain it to the public. However, don’t underestimate the power of the “public” to turf these bums right out of office.


  4. I’m not in the public employment sector. I get $1000 per year for all of these combined: (Acupuncture, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Naturopath, Osteopath, Physiotherapist, Podiatrist, Psychologist, Speech Therapist). So $3000 is a lot of money to ask for..much more than many in private industry. We also get 0% top up on maternity and paternity leave while the BCTF is asking for 100% top up on maternity and 60% on paternity. I also get 0, that’s right 0 sick days a year. If I get sick I need to use one of my 2 floating holidays followed by my vacation for the year. Teachers get very good benefits compared to many people in this province. This fight needs to be about the classroom and the students, not the teacher’s benefits.


    1. Hi Ryan,
      Thank you for your comment;) I just want to clarify that the $3000 proposal was only for members in chronic pain (who are costing the Government and tax-payers an insane amount of $ being on Medical Leave instead of teaching due to this type of chronic pain) to try to get them back to work sooner… Not for everyone!! And, as I understand, this was also not “extra” but an advance- as in they’d be using their future 5 years of “massage benefits”.
      It is also true that BC Teachers get pretty decent benefits, however it’s important to acknowledge that these professionals have fought for decades and given up countless personal benefits to ensure that every student gets what requirements they need. This has never been about teachers- but for heavens’ sake, why not pay them what they’re worth!! During the school year they have no other life than planning., prepping, marking, and apologizing that they can’t make a personal event cause they have to work:( Please also acknowledge that teachers have a very intense, stressful, and overwhelming job with not enough support, which takes up most of their time (no, 8:30-3 is only the time the STUDENTS are at school!). Keep in mind- it’s way more expensive to pay for Medical Leaves, than to ensure all teachers have a manageable workload! Teachers are professionals way underpaid relative to other professionals;) Why does a starting lawyer make 2x more $ in their 1st year??
      But that aside, it’s only the Government who wants you to think this strike is about Wages- teachers pretty much only care about getting back the Class-Size and Composition Language back that Christy Clark was found to have “Illegally and Unconstitutionally” stripped from Teachers’ contract in 2002 by the BCSupreme Court= $300 million per year of “cuts” FOR 12 YEARS!! This has only to do with teachers’ working conditions, and students’ learning conditions, which are the Main concern. The Liberal Government chooses to present this as “benefits” for teachers, when, of course, an Educational Assistant’s salary can’t be considered a “benefit” to teachers!! That’s just the Government twisting things to try to dupe the most tax-payers possible;) Good luck to you and I hope you can continue to be active and inquisitive and support this fight. A strong Public Education System will ensure a strong Economy for BC in the future;)


      1. I did not realize that about the $3000 being only for specific people, thank you for the clarification. And trust me I know exactly how much time and effort teachers put in during the year as my father was a teacher, my brother and two of my sister-in-laws are teachers. And even though there are many hours put on outside of school hours, especially if they help with extra-curricular activities, saying they have no life outside of the school for 10 months is a huge exaggeration. I know they definitely work more than the 8:30-3:30 that is a common argument against them but so what. We all put in huge hours at our jobs..I put in 60 hour weeks to get projects done, work on weekends, have to travel and stay away over weekends away from family. I take calls from India at 8:00 at night or 5 in the morning. These things go with the job. I don’t get paid more than equivalently experienced teachers do, but I have to put in 47 weeks of work a year (taking out my vacation) to get the same amount of money teachers do over 40 weeks (taking out their 4 weeks vacation and 2 months of non-work where they can actually make more money by doing summer school or other odd jobs). You say this is not about money or benefits, and yet the BCTF refuses to accept the government pay increase amounts. Why? Why not prove that argument and just accept the government offer on pay increases and then focus solely on the class composition components of the contract? You gave the answer yourself when you compared teachers salaries to lawyer’s salaries (a ridiculous comparison in my opinion). Obviously, even to you, salary and benefits matter in this dispute.
        And that is fine if it does matter. Please don’t go off on me for my views on this. I am not “connected” to either side in this dispute and see only what each side deems fit to release to the public. I know the teachers are working to get fewer kids in each classroom and get additional help and I total support that. But I’m not seeing what all the teachers are saying. I’m not seeing the the acceptance of a smaller pay raise to enable the government to afford to pay for the hundreds of new staff members, portables, etc. that will be required.
        Ah who am I kidding. All I really know is that this is going to cost the taxpayers of BC a ton of money. Either the government agrees to the BCTF terms and pays ridiculous big amounts into the special “funds”. Or the BCTF agrees to the government terms and then proceeds with 44,000 grievances over the stupid way the government tore up a legal contract, resulting in ridiculous big amounts of moolah being required.


  5. MLA offices are closed for the duration of the strike – do people have a problem with this? Are they losing 10 percent for not showing up to work for what? 100 percent of their time? And people want to talk about who is getting massaged?


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