Minister of Education's responds to meeting between BCTF and BCPSEA
Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued the following statement (Wednesday):
“I invited the lead negotiators, Mr. Iker and Mr. Cameron, to meet with me today because we all want to resolve this strike. We want to see students in school next Tuesday.
“To make that happen, both sides need to focus on the issues that can be mediated and settled immediately and set aside some matters that will be dealt with by the courts.
“I proposed three specific steps to reach a settlement and clear the way for students to go back to school on schedule.
“First, I asked the parties to set aside the matter of potential grievances stemming from Justice Griffin’s decision.
“The demand on potential grievances is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year. This matter is before the courts and will be addressed through the appeals process.
“I’m not asking the BCTF to do anything prejudicial to their court case, but setting this issue aside as the appeals process takes place gives mediation a chance to succeed.
“Second, I urged the parties to get into mediation as soon as possible.
“I made it clear that setting aside the grievances is not a precondition for mediation but I stated my belief that doing so would allow negotiations to focus squarely on the key issues at hand: teachers’ wages and class size and composition.
“My hope is that it would move the parties into a zone where mediator Vince Ready sees an opportunity to start productive mediation.
“We expect Mr. Ready will explore this development but – as it was agreed to by the parties – it remains up to Mr. Ready to decide when to start full mediation.
“As soon as Mr. Ready indicates mediation should commence, we are ready. In fact, we are ready now.
“And third, I asked the BCTF and BCPSEA to suspend all strike or lockout activities for two weeks when Mr. Ready starts mediation.
“Government has no plan to legislate an end to this dispute and we are not asking either the BCTF or BCPSEA to give up their right to strike or lockout.
“We are just asking them to voluntarily stand down and let classes start while the parties are in mediation.
“British Columbia has a world-class public education system and our students consistently rank among the best in the world. That is in large measure due to our great teachers. We need to resolve this dispute and work together to build on our success and prepare our students for the future.”