VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Education Minister George Abbott confirmed live on News1130 that he would consider legislating teachers back to work if a negotiated settlement can’t be reached in two weeks. 

This morning the government appointed a fact finder to find out whether a deal could be reached between the teachers’ union and the province’s bargaining agent.

Assistant deputy labour minister Trevor Hughes will meet with BCTF and the Public School Employers’ Association over the next two weeks and provide a report to Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid by February 23rd.  She’s encouraging the two sides reach a resolution.

Teachers are asking for a 15 per cent wage increase but Abbott has said that won’t happen because of the government’s simply doesn’t have enough money.

As part of their limited strike action since September, teachers have not written report cards all year and are refusing to do administrative duties.

Susan Lambert with the BC Teachers Federation also spoke live on News1130.

“We are trying for a negotiated settlement at the table.  We hope this process will work and we’ll give it our all and we believe in a negotiated settlement.  [But] we are concerned and we would have preferred the government come to the table and give the bargaining agent the mandate to engage with us.  At this point that has not happened.”

Lambert was asked three times whether a province-wide walk-out by teachers was possible, and didn’t answer one way or the other. The union has now said a walk-out by teachers, if it was being considered, would require a provincial vote, something that takes time to complete.