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Education minister rejects BCTF’s call for binding arbitration

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Another disappointment for teachers, parents, and students this afternoon.

Their union’s recommendation that the two sides go to binding arbritration has been rejected.

In a statement released today, Education Minister Peter Fassbender says “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.”

“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.”

Earlier this week, the BC Teachers Federation had called for binding arbitration for issues such as wages and benefits, but Cameron says what teachers want is still out of line with what other public sector unions have been getting.

“The union is still seeking more and if they would say it frankly to the public, ‘that’s okay, we’re seeking more than everybody else and then we’ll get on the class size and composition,’ but they understate the difference and they’re very, very resolute to this point, on getting more than other people.”

Cameron also takes issue with the fact it was never submitted in written form, and came with a number of strings attached.

“We would have to withdraw our proposal on class size and composition, quite contrary to what the courts said, that there should be negotiations about class size and composition in a new agreement.”

Cameron says mediator Vince Ready will continue to “probe with the parties,” but doesn’t see a purpose in further talks at this time.

“Really, it seemed to be, when the dust had settled and I’d had a good look and a good discussion, it became quite apparent that this wasn’t a serious proposal,” explained Cameron.

In today’s statement, Fassbender said the preconditions set out by the union would tilt the process in the union’s favour.

“This labour dispute is a serious matter that is disrupting the education of 558,000 students across BC Thousands of teachers and their families are suffering real financial hardship with no end in sight.”

Cameron released the full letter on the BCPSEA website today.

Teachers will continue to stand strong for a fair deal: Iker

In a follow-up statement from BCTF president Jim Iker, he says “the BC Liberal government continued to put their own political objectives ahead of BC’s public education system when they rejected BC teachers’ call for binding arbitration.”

Iker states he has been meeting with Vince Ready and Peter Cameron to outline the proposal on binding arbitration, calling it “a fair, workable, and pragmatic plan to end the strike, open schools, and get children back into classrooms.”

Iker goes on to state, “unfortunately, the government continues to put its own interests ahead of all others. BC 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.”

The union president called the proposal a straightforward and practical solution, and “it would have seen the most contentious issue, the government’s attempt to nullify their BC Supreme Court losses, removed from the bargaining process. All other matters, including compensation, could have gone to binding arbitration.”

Iker claims the BC teachers’ only precondition was that the government’s attempt to undo their court losses, proposal E80, be dropped.