WATCH: Education Minister Peter Fassbender again rejects teacher offer of binding arbitration. Tanya Beja reports.
VANCOUVER – Education Minister Peter Fassbender clearly outlined “binding arbitration is not in the cards, period” in a press conference this afternoon.
Fassbender’s comments come on the heels of BCTF president Jim Iker’s press conference this morning saying the members will vote on whether they are prepared to end the current strike if the B.C. government agrees to binding arbitration.
Iker also said that when the government rejected binding arbitration on Saturday, it was a “political knee-jerk reaction.” However, Fassbender believes the BCTF knew the government would reject binding arbitration when they first called for it and says it was a “ploy” to win public favour.
“The B.C. Liberal government gave some weak excuses, but not a single legitimate reason for saying no,” said Iker. “If it’s a matter of policy, then change it. You are the government after all.”
While it may appear to Iker that it’s in the hands of the government, Fassbender says they still do not have a written proposal from the BCTF and instead, are finding out details through social media.
Fassbender said he asked the BCTF president two weeks ago to have their members take a vote on suspending the strike, so they can get the students and teachers back in the classrooms and allow the mediation on wages and benefits continue.
So instead, teachers will vote to end the strike if the government agrees to binding arbitration and also drops clause E80.
WATCH: Peter Fassbender’s full statement to the media Monday afternoon
According to the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association Framework for Settlement, proposal E80 deals with the “learning and working conditions” in the classroom. It’s about issues we hear so often about: class size, class composition and specialist teachers.
“The BC Liberals must stop E80, their attempt to negotiate out of two past supreme court losses and any future decisions to a higher court,” added Iker.
“Teachers will never bargain away their charter rights, or a potential award from the courts before it even happens.”
Iker said binding arbitration is still the fastest way to end the strike even though the government said the BCTF’s proposal was not a serious one.
“We need a resolution to this dispute that involves bargaining,” said Iker.
“All the government needs to do is say ‘yes’.”
Iker also said he believes that the two sides can come to an agreement without a tax hike, which is something Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the government was not prepared to do to end the current dispute.
The results of the vote are expected to be released between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday night.
On Sunday, dozens of parents gathered outside the Vancouver Art Gallery to voice their anger at the BCTF as they said the BCTF is prolonging the strike.
In Surrey however, parents gathered to voice their anger at the government for rejecting binding arbitration.
There has also been an online movement, calling for a province-wide general strike and a petition to “recall Premier Christy Clark.”
Document: BCTF Framework for Settlement Through Binding Arbitration
WATCH: BCTF president Jim Iker says all the government needs to do to end the dispute is say yes to binding arbitration