WATCH: The BCTF announced today they are prepared to continue job action through the summer, and into September, if a deal is not reached soon. Keith Baldrey reports.
VANCOUVER – BCTF President Jim Iker says if the government doesn’t come to the table with new funding by June 30, teachers will picket outside summer school this summer.
Iker says it’s clear the Premier and Education Minister need to be pressured to begin mediation.
“We need them to say yes to mediation and bring the funding to the table to get the deal done,” says Iker. “Teachers will continue their strike into the summer and picket summer school if government does not bring funding to the table by June 30.”
Iker also says all teachers in the 26 districts running summer school programs will have to picket, not just summer school teachers.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender says the government will suspend the summer school lockout but it will be up to the BCTF to lift its strike action so summer school classes can go ahead.
It is up to other districts to decide for themselves if and how they want to picket.
Each district can also decide to force teachers to cancel planned summer vacations to stay and picket.
“The government’s willing to suspend their lockout,” said Fassbender. “Will you stop the strike action so those students who need the help, if this is all about the students, then would you lift the strike action? Allow summer school to ahead and the government is prepared for that to happen but again the ball is in the BCTF court.”
Iker says the government’s willingness to lift the lockout doesn’t help.
“Lifting the lockout on summer school doesn’t bring the two sides closer. It’s funding for class size and composition that will bring the two sides closer. That’s where Peter Fassbender should put his energy,” says Iker.
The Labour Relations Board will rule on whether or not summer school is an essential service for students who really need it.
Fassbender says they felt summer school was out of the realm of negotiations.
“We had hoped significantly that the BCTF would see the value for students and parents to allow the summer school to go ahead,” says Fassbender.
He says the government has moved ‘much more substantially’ than the BCTF in the dispute so far.
“We still are miles apart when it comes to what BCTF is asking for,” said Fassbender. “We are not going to go into deficit to fund what we think are unreasonable demands by the BCTF.”
The minister says they are willing to negotiate all summer to reach a deal if necessary, but as far as bringing in a mediator to facilitate a deal, Fassbender said mediation will only work if the parties involved are close to a settlement.
“A mediator cannot facilitate an agreement if the parties are as far apart as we are right now,” he says.
WATCH FULL PRESS CONFERENCE: Education Minister Peter Fassbender speaks with the media Wednesday afternoon
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