Judge finds no ground for teacher mediation

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher found two sides too far apart for a settlement

B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has concluded the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. government are too far apart on wages and working conditions for mediation to be effective.

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and the BCTF confirmed Wednesday that Justice Stephen Kelleher has taken part in “exploratory” talks in recent days to seek an end to the teacher strike that wiped out the last two weeks of the school year.

“He had some exploratory discussions with the parties and determined that mediation is not indicated at this time,” said an agreed statement by both parties.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the BCTF’s total compensation demands are still more than twice what other government unions have settled for.

The union’s benefit demands alone represent an additional $225 million a year, Fassbender said. Those include increases to preparation time, pregnancy and parental leave, extended health and dental and substitute teacher compensation.

“There is no process and no mediator that can bridge this gap at this time,” Fassbender said. “To pretend otherwise only raises false expectations and serves to delay the tough decisions the BCTF executive needs to make to get to an affordable agreement.”

BCTF president Jim Iker said the government placed unacceptable pre-conditions on wage negotiations going to mediation.

“At this point, with the government maintaining entrenched positions that are unfair and unreasonable, mediation will not be able to move forward,” Iker said. “We will keep the lines of communication open in July to restart bargaining if the government is ready to make a real effort and bring the necessary funding to the table.”

BCPSEA has proposed a 7% pay increase over six years, plus a $1,200 signing bonus with a deadline that expired June 30. The BCTF has countered 8% over five years with a proposed $5,000 bonus, to make up for a year the union has worked under an expired contract.

BCPSEA has calculated the cost of the union’s position on class size and composition at $1.67 billion. That dispute has been the subject of a series of court actions and the B.C. Court of Appeal is expected to rule on it in the fall.

Fassbender said the latest offer is to guarantee $75 million in each year of a new contract for special needs support.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Road washout affecting section of Highway No. 3 near Manning Park

Road maintenance crews are on the scene, with an almost two kilometre long stretch impacted

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in Sts’ailes community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Community Camera: May 28, 2020

Mount Cheam towers over Agassiz one lovely spring day. The weather may… Continue reading

Fraser Valley Regional Library branches offer curbside pick up

After two and a half months of being closed, people can once again check books out of the library

EDITORIAL: Why I wear a mask and you should, too

Editor Adam Louis says it’s about more than the practical

Minimum wage goes up June 1 in B.C. as businesses face COVID-19 challenges

The minimum wage jumps by 75 cents to $14.60 an hour on Monday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Abbotsford’s UFV gym now without a sponsor

Partnership with Envision Financial ends, school seeking new organizations to partner with

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Most Read