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.

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

Just Posted

Journey Middle School students try out the trades

Program is designed to expose students to career options

Local Monarchist says Saanich Peninsula would be a ‘great place’ for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Bruce Hallsor also expects the couple’s professional opportunities to lie outside Greater Victoria

Court rejects mistrial for accused Victoria drug dealer who fired his lawyer

Horst Schirmer filed a mistrial application on basis of receiving incompetent representation

Saanich seeks young residents to serve on 2020 advisory committees

Youth members must be between 16 and 24 years old

VicPD confirms wolf sighting in James Bay

Police ask that children and pets be taken inside

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

VIDEO: Drone footage shows extent of damage in Highway 4 rockslide

Tofino, Ucluelet still cut off from rest of the island, as crews work to repair roadway

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Most Read