June 19, 2014 12:34 pm
Updated: June 20, 2014 12:06 am

BCTF calls for mediator in teachers’ dispute; Fassbender calls on BCTF to “be realistic”

ABOVE: BCTF president Jim Iker appeals with the government to make a deal

The BC Teachers Federation is calling on Premier Christy Clark to agree to mediation in the teachers’ dispute.

The BCTF says after two more days of face-to-face bargaining, and no progress, the best way to get a deal is through mediation.

The union’s president says he’s confident a deal can be reached.

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“This government built in a series of surpluses and a sizeable contingency fund in their fiscal plan over the next several years,” says Jim Iker, BCTF President. “They have the money. It’s time to reinvest in BC’s students.”

The BCTF is calling for $450 million dollars a year, including retroactive pay, for class size, composition and increased medical benefits.

They also want an eight per cent wage increase over five years and a signing bonus.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender says he’s disappointed by the BCTF’s demands. The province is offering seven per cent over six years plus a smaller signing bonus.

“I’m disappointed. We are now further away from an agreement than we were a week ago. We want to give teachers a raise but the BCTF leadership is making that virtually impossible.”

“Their wage and benefit demands alone are more than twice what other unions have settled for. On top of that, they are pushing for hundreds of millions more each year in other contract demands,” says Fassbender.

He says the government’s current offer as “at the very limit of what we can afford.”

Fassbender says it’s up to the BCTF how long the strike lasts.

“We appreciate that brings with it the possibility that this strike could go on for quite a while.  How long it will last is entirely up to the BCTF – but any hope of timely resolution will require the BCTF executive to be realistic.”

 

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