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UPDATED: Minister of Education calls BCTF vote 'widely expected and understandable'

By Contributor
September 7th, 2014

Education Minister Peter Fassbender released the following statement today in response to the BCTF vote on binding arbitration:

“The results of this vote were widely expected and understandable.

“We know BC teachers want schools re-opened.  That is a goal we all share.

“As we have consistently made clear, binding arbitration would lead to unacceptable tax increases in this case. That’s because the two sides remain too far apart on wages and benefits.

“The best way to resolve this labour dispute remains at the negotiating table.

“I will continue to call on the BCTF to suspend this strike and get into the affordability zone, just like 150,000 other hard-working women and men in the public sector who have settled this year.”

Minister of Education calls on BCTF to ‘suspend’ strike action

Education Minister Peter Fassbender released the following statement Monday:

“On August 27th, I called Mr. Iker and Mr. Cameron to a meeting in my office to discuss a way forward and settle this dispute. In what I thought was a reasonable proposal, I asked the BCPSEA to lift any lockout provisions and the BCTF to suspend their strike activities so school could start on time and students and teachers could be back in classrooms.  

“I asked Mr. Iker to put the idea of suspending the strike to the BCTF membership so that we could get into serious discussions about wages and benefits and bring the BCTF into the affordability zone and then into meaningful mediation with Mr. Ready and find a negotiated settlement.   

“But the BCTF is still asking for nearly twice as much as what other public-sector unions have settled for and they are still demanding a $5,000 signing bonus. That’s not affordable and it’s not fair to other unionized employees.

“Then, last week the BCTF, via a press conference, called for binding arbitration. They gave the BCPSEA’s chief negotiator Peter Cameron five minutes’ notice before making this announcement at their press conference. 

“On Saturday, Mr. Cameron sent me a very clear letter which I followed up with a statement, that binding arbitration is not in the cards in this dispute, period. When the NDP government settled with the doctors through binding arbitration, it had a huge impact on the budget of the province and on all of us as taxpayers.

“If Mr. Iker is serious about wanting to get a settlement, then I am asking him to do what I asked him to do a week and a half ago. Ask the BCTF members this Wednesday for the ability for the executive to suspend strike action. That’s my challenge to Mr. Iker.”

Government rejects binding arbitration call by BCTF

Minister of Education Peter Fassbender has issued the following statement: 

“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.”

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