BCTF President Jim Iker (right) speaks with teacher Troy Hardwick

B.C. rejects arbitration with teachers

B.C. government will not enter binding arbitration to end teachers' strike.

By Steven Chua, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s government has turned down a proposal to try to end the province’s teachers strike, rejecting a suggestion to enter into binding arbitration.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said government negotiator Peter Cameron advised against such a move.

Fassbender issued a statement on Saturday saying he agreed, calling the teachers’ union proposal a “another empty effort” to give parents and teachers “false hope.”

Cameron said teachers’ conditions regarding class size and support staff levels remain a major stumbling block.

He said he believed the offer was not serious because it did not guarantee the end of the strike.

“They would vote on taking down the strike,” said Cameron. “That’s not a real proposal.”

But the union fired back.

Jim Iker, head of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation said arbitration would be a fair way to end the strike and get children back in class.

“Unfortunately, the government continues to put its own interests ahead of all others,” said Iker in a written statement. “B.C. 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.”

Iker said the only precondition to bargaining was that government remove a proposal the union says would undo their court losses.

This year the B.C. Supreme Court ruled government breached teachers’ rights by stripping them of the ability to bargain for class size and the amount of support staff in classrooms in 2002.

The union accused government of trying to undo that ruling during the bargaining process.

On Friday, teachers said if the province agreed to binding arbitration, they would vote on ending the strike that has delayed the start of school.

Fassbender was cool to the idea, expressing reluctance but stopping short of “categorically” rejecting arbitration.

Cameron’s suggestion has cemented the fact the province will not take up the offer.

He said a veteran mediator will be monitoring the situation to see if and when more bargaining can take place.

“I think that’s our best line of hope,” he said.

“Vince Ready continues to monitor the situation,” said Cameron. “At this point Vince does not see any purpose in full-scale mediation happening.”

Ready has a reputation for solving even the toughest disputes, but had previously walked out of bargaining sessions between government negotiators and teachers, saying both sides were too far apart.

British Columbia’s 40,000 teachers went on strike two weeks before the start of summer vacation, putting half a million students out of class and delaying the start of class indefinitely.

Just Posted

Lagoon improvements, but no safety audit recommendations, coming to Harrison

The lagoon will see electrical upgrades, a new flag pole and fencing, but no life jackets or signs

UFV introduces first mindfulness graduate program in Canada

Most of the University of the Fraser Valley program is offered online

Chilliwack churns out new generation of wildfire fighters

School district partners with B.C. Wildfire Service to prep Grade 12s for careers

All child porn charges against Chilliwack realtor dismissed

Meissner’s computers contained ‘miniscule’ amount of content normally found on offenders’ devices

Mounties hunt for missing Langley man

The public has been asked to help locate David Grainger, last seen on March 19

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

Giants begin playoff run in Langley tonight

With one win and a loss last weekend, the G-Men now top the Western Conference

Vancouver Giant named to Western Conference first-tier all-star team

Young hockey defenceman Bowen Byram is once again lauded for his outstanding efforts on the ice

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Punching Parkinson’s in the Fraser Valley

Rock Steady Boxing program, designed to help battle symptoms of Parkinson’s, coming to Abbotsford in April

Most Read