With the first day of September classes in jeopardy, B.C. Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker challenged the government to begin mediation tomorrow.
“We’re ready to negotiate anytime. We’ve been ready all summer. We’ve been ready all week…my message to the Minister today, and his rhetoric of 24/7 bargaining, is let’s see it,” said Iker.
“How ’bout tomorrow? Let’s get this deal done.”
Iker made the call teachers in front of hundreds of teachers at a conference in Kamloops. The BCTF’s annual summer conference was scheduled for months – but with the deadline for reaching an agreement that won’t impact another year of classes fast approaching, it had a decidedly political tone.
On Saturday, the BCTF sent an email to members entitled “Intensify the pressure and stay the course”, summarizing discussions that took place at the conference the day before.
“In the end, the meeting adjourned with renewed solidarity and determination to achieve a fair deal that improves teachers’ and students’ working and learning conditions. The collective decision is to stay the course: Stage 3 continues,” said the email.
“To intensify the pressure on Premier Clark, Minister Fassbender, MLAs, and trustees, all local unions will be organizing picketing at schools and board offices throughout the week of August 25. In addition, locals are planning other events to keep our issues visible in our communities. If we have not reached a fair deal by September 5, study sessions will be organized.”
According to the email, the B.C. Federation of Labour is also “organizing a series of events leading up to a mass rally on September 5 at Premier Clark’s cabinet offices at Canada Place in Vancouver.”
WATCH: Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey with the latest on whether or not kids will be going back to school on September 2.
Last week, Vancouver’s superintendent of schools said a decision on whether classrooms will open as scheduled on September 2 won’t be made until Friday, August 29.
The two sides are technically in a media blackout instituted by veteran mediator Vince Ready during exploratory talks, but mediation has not formally started, and Fassbender told media last week that no formal meetings are scheduled.
“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,” he said.