VANCOUVER — Talks went late into the night on Sunday as the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government bargaining teams met at a hotel in Richmond with veteran mediator Vince Ready. The two sides spent the weekend talking – going late Saturday and Sunday nights.
They announced on Thursday that the two sides would be meeting again.
“Bargaining is continuing,” Ready told Global News Saturday. He confirmed he was shuttling between the two rooms, but wouldn’t comment further on the talks. Both sides are currently imposing a media blackout and won’t comment on the progress of discussions.
WATCH: Keith Baldrey discusses the latest movements in the negotiations.
Talks wrapped up around 2:00am Monday, with mediator Vince Ready suggesting would continue later in the day.
— Tanya Beja (@TBejaGlobal) September 14, 2014
“One assumes there has been some kind of movement, otherwise they would not still be there,” says Global News‘ Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey. He says the BCTF will not sign a contract that doesn’t contain more money for classroom funding or that jeopardizes the court cases it has won on class size. The government won’t negotiate a deal that gives BCTF members significantly more than other public sector unions with regards to wages and benefits.
“Those are the issues at play here. That’s where the movement is likely occurring. Nobody is clear at all whether there’s enough for a deal there,” says Baldrey. But he says he doesn’t think a deal will be reached tonight.
Even if a deal is reached tonight, Baldrey says the teachers would have to vote to ratify it, so that means either way there will be no school for B.C. kids Monday morning.
Meanwhile, teachers gathered this morning at the Vancouver Art Gallery to rally for arbitration. The movement was organized by parents to show their support and students were in attendance as well.
However, another group of parents, which calls itself the B.C. Parents’ Federation, showed up at the rally, protesting against arbitration. This resulted in a call to Vancouver Police after a shoving match broke out between the two groups.
WATCH: Jill Bennett has the latest on the arbitration protest.
Since negotiations led by Ready fell apart two weeks ago, teachers have voted more than 99 percent in favour of returning to work if there was binding arbitration. The government has out-ruled this, but it appeared that they are getting more flexible on the contentious E80 clause, which deals with class size and composition.
“We have said clearly, tell us what the problem with E80 is, and we’ll negotiate that,” said Education Minister Peter Fassbender. “And again, negotiations are about give and take.”
Premier Christy Clark has said she thinks she can get a negotiated deal before she travels to India for a trade mission that’s scheduled to start on Oct. 9.
READ MORE: B.C. teacher’s strike – The timeline
Students across the province are becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation. They’ve planned a protest on the Lions’ Gate Bridge next weekend, called Bridge The Gap, requesting a resolution to the strike.
The 500,000 public school children in B.C. have already missed the first two weeks of this school year. The full-scale strike started on June 17 of the last school year, after escalating job action by the teachers throughout the spring.
“I’m worried if it goes much longer, if they’ll have to repeat a year. And I’m especially ready for the grade 12s who are ready to go apply and haven’t started yet,” parent Elice Vanderwerff told Global News.
–With files from Jill Bennett, Amy Judd and Yuliya Talmazan.