EDUCATION Minister Peter Fassbender has rejected the B.C. Teachers’ Federation proposal for binding arbitration.
In a statement on Saturday, he said: “This afternoon, Peter Cameron, lead negotiator for the British Columbia Public School Employers Association, advised me to reject yesterday’s call from the BCTF to enter binding arbitration. I agreed.
“After due diligence and further investigation, it became very clear that it was another empty effort to give parents and teachers a false hope that there is a simple way to resolve the dispute.
“At a meeting yesterday, the BCTF made it clear that they would insist on several preconditions – preconditions that would effectively tilt the entire process in the BCTF favour. Despite several efforts by Mr. Cameron, and more than a day later, BCPSEA still doesn’t have a written proposal from the BCTF.
“This labour dispute is a serious matter that is disrupting the education of 558,000 students across B.C. Thousands of teachers and their families are suffering real financial hardship with no end in sight.
“They deserve better than what they saw yesterday. Mr. Iker and the BCTF leadership have a duty to their members to negotiate an agreement — and that requires them to make hard decisions.
“Instead, the BCTF leadership is trying to avoid having the tough conversation with their members about what is realistic and achievable at the bargaining table.
“They need to get in the affordability zone on wages and benefits so we can get to work on negotiating class size and composition – which both sides agree is the most important issue.
“We are ready to provide teachers with a fair wage increase and we want to negotiate class size and composition.
“This dispute needs to be settled at the bargaining table and I invite them again to lift their pickets while the parties work towards mediating an end to this dispute.”