UPDATE: BCTF says mediator Vince Ready will meet with their President Jim Iker and government’s chief negotiator Peter Cameron on Thursday. Until now, Ready refused to get involved because the two sides were too far apart.
It was a glimmer of hope for thousands of parents and students across the province that the new school year could still start less than a week from now.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender, government negotiator Peter Cameron and BCTF President Jim Iker met face-to-face this afternoon in Victoria in an attempt to find some middle ground in the ongoing labour dispute between B.C. teachers and the government.
The trio exchanged ideas behind closed doors during a 90-minute meeting.
After the meeting, each shared their take on today’s negotiations.
Peter Fassbender says he proposed that BCTF sets aside their grievances in relation to the B.C. Supreme Court ruling on class size and composition, “recognizing that the court process runs its due course.”
Fassbender says he reaffirmed the need for mediation with Iker.
He also proposed that the teachers stop their strike for a two-week period as soon as Vince Ready agrees to mediate and BCPSEA removes their lockout provisions at the same time.
“The idea is that the parties should stand down the strike and lockout for the beginning of the school year, and have a time-limited agreement,” adds Cameron.
Fassbender says that will give teachers an opportunity to start getting paid again.
Meanwhile, Iker says they need to concentrate on getting back to the negotiating table tomorrow and work through the rest of the week to get the deal done.
On Sunday, Iker called for immediate mediation starting this week. Fassbender released a statement on Monday, saying BCPSEA is ready and willing to start mediation, as soon as mediator Vince Ready thinks mediation will be productive.
Global BC Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey says if the BCTF agrees to Fassbender’s proposal to park their grievances until a later date and there is willingness from the government to compromise, it is more likely that Vince Ready will get involved in mediation.
“We have more compromises we can make, which will happen through Mr. Ready and mediation,” says Iker. “But we also need some commitment from the government that it will move on the issues.”
Teachers have been on strike since June with little negotiation happening over the summer. Now, with less than a week left before the school year is supposed to start on Sept. 2, many schools across the province, including in Vancouver, are behind picket lines.