BCTF President Jim Iker (right) speaks with teacher Troy Hardwick

B.C. rejects arbitration with teachers

B.C. government will not enter binding arbitration to end teachers' strike.

By Steven Chua, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s government has turned down a proposal to try to end the province’s teachers strike, rejecting a suggestion to enter into binding arbitration.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said government negotiator Peter Cameron advised against such a move.

Fassbender issued a statement on Saturday saying he agreed, calling the teachers’ union proposal a “another empty effort” to give parents and teachers “false hope.”

Cameron said teachers’ conditions regarding class size and support staff levels remain a major stumbling block.

He said he believed the offer was not serious because it did not guarantee the end of the strike.

“They would vote on taking down the strike,” said Cameron. “That’s not a real proposal.”

But the union fired back.

Jim Iker, head of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation said arbitration would be a fair way to end the strike and get children back in class.

“Unfortunately, the government continues to put its own interests ahead of all others,” said Iker in a written statement. “B.C. teachers are willing to put our proposals to an independent third party for evaluation, but the government remains too entrenched to even consider this fair process.”

Iker said the only precondition to bargaining was that government remove a proposal the union says would undo their court losses.

This year the B.C. Supreme Court ruled government breached teachers’ rights by stripping them of the ability to bargain for class size and the amount of support staff in classrooms in 2002.

The union accused government of trying to undo that ruling during the bargaining process.

On Friday, teachers said if the province agreed to binding arbitration, they would vote on ending the strike that has delayed the start of school.

Fassbender was cool to the idea, expressing reluctance but stopping short of “categorically” rejecting arbitration.

Cameron’s suggestion has cemented the fact the province will not take up the offer.

He said a veteran mediator will be monitoring the situation to see if and when more bargaining can take place.

“I think that’s our best line of hope,” he said.

“Vince Ready continues to monitor the situation,” said Cameron. “At this point Vince does not see any purpose in full-scale mediation happening.”

Ready has a reputation for solving even the toughest disputes, but had previously walked out of bargaining sessions between government negotiators and teachers, saying both sides were too far apart.

British Columbia’s 40,000 teachers went on strike two weeks before the start of summer vacation, putting half a million students out of class and delaying the start of class indefinitely.

Just Posted

Okanagan RCMP look for owners of various keys located during arrest

RCMP seek to reunite the owners of various keys found at the arrest of suspects in a stolen vehicle.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Salmon Arm pot shops close as cannabis becomes legal in Canada

Three of four local marijuana dispensaries have already applied for licences

North Okanagan-Shuswap trustee hopefuls state stance on education

Retired teachers association holds forum for School District 83 board candidates

Shuswap goat delivery way above quota

Hillside Dreams Callekno produced sextuplets, a rare event among goats

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Video: Trustee candidates outline why they’re running

Ten candidates hope to claim one of the two trustee positions available for Salmon Arm

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

Most Read