On Friday the British Columbia government and teachers’ union finally found a point they could agree upon — having Vince Ready come to the table as a mediator. The only problem? Ready has declined the job due to a busy schedule.
The government’s chief negotiator, Peter Cameron, said on Friday he spoke directly to BC Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker earlier in the day and they decided to contact Ready together, get clarification on his availability and find out if he would accept the job.
Mark Brown had been involved in the discussions since February 2013 and after the BCTF called for mediation on Thursday, immediately stepped down.
The BCTF is calling for $450 million a year, including retroactive pay and for class size and composition changes along with increased medical benefits. The union is also asking for an eight per cent wage increase over five years and a $5,000 signing bonus.
The province is offering seven per cent over six years plus a smaller signing bonus.
“We are now further away from an agreement than we were a week ago,” said Education Minister Peter Fassbender on June 19. “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.”
Although a mediator has no formal authority to settle the dispute, their goal is to bring both sides together and help them reach an agreement.
~ with files from Canadian Press