August 20, 2014 3:35 pm

School start date of September 2nd in question

WATCH:  Education Minister Peter Fassbender was at Global BC today, sharing his thoughts on the efforts to resolve his government’s bitter dispute with BC public school teachers.

It’s less than two weeks away from what should be the start of the school year, but there still doesn’t seem to be any movement in the impasse between teachers and the government.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender appeared on the Morning News Wednesday with an update on the state of negotiations.

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“I really want to see every student back in school on September 2nd,” he says.

The minister would not reveal how negotiations have been going, citing a media blackout on specifics.

However, Fassbender says there are no meetings scheduled at this point between the BCTF and the government, but the government is eager to get back to the bargaining table and is ready to negotiate 24/7.

“We hope that the BCTF will come to grips with the issues we need to deal with, and we are more than prepared to have mediator Vince Ready sit with them 24/7, and get a deal,” says Fassbender.

Ready has spoken to both sides separately, but until the parties are closer, he will not be stepping in.

Fassbender says teachers need get their expectations in line with other unions that have reached agreements successfully with government.

“My hope is that the teachers of this province will give their leadership the mandate to go back to the table, to come closer to where they need to be, protect the rights of taxpayers and the budget of this province, and to be closer to where other public sector unions have come,” says Fassbender. “Teachers deserve a raise, but we need to get closer, that is the goal — and we need to negotiate it.”

Fassbender ruled out legislating teachers back-to-work, and says negotiated settlements are the way to go.

“We’ve been on that cycle, and seen what it does, and the dysfunction it creates, we then become big bad government, so we’ve said we are not going to legislate,” says Fassbender. “The point is a negotiated settlement, we are not going to solve this through legislation.”

Fassbender says teachers and government need to find that “sweet spot” where the two sides can come to an agreement.

“We are clear we have to protect the budget and taxpayers of the province,” says Fassbender. “And we need to respect teachers and give them a fair settlement.”

Fassbender also promoted the government’s new website for parents seeking information on the labour dispute, including information on the $40 per day, per child credit if the labour dispute continues into September.

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