In a press conference this evening, BCTF president Jim Iker announced the results of today’s membership vote.
He said 30,490 of 30,669 of its teacher members voted “yes” to proceed with third party binding arbitration as the way of ending the strike. Surprisingly, more than 10,300 teachers did not vote on the issue, giving the vote a turnout of approximately 75 per cent.
In addition to turning to a third party to settle the dispute, the BCTF also wants the government to drop the contentious E80 from the bargaining table.
However, on Monday, shortly after the union announced its plan to put the idea of binding arbitration to a membership ballot, the provincial government reaffirmed for the second time that it would not explore the option.
B.C. education minister Peter Fassbender denounced it as a ploy by the union to garner greater public support given that binding arbitration was already rejected once over the weekend.
Shortly after the press conference, he issued another statement over the need to return to the negotiating table as the best way to end the dispute, adding that the vote results were “widely expected and understandable.”
He also restated that tax hikes would be required to fulfill the union’s demands: options provided include a property tax hike of $200 per household per year or a gas tax increase of 5 cents per litre.
“I will continue to call on the BCTF to suspend this strike and get into the affordability zone, just like 150,000 other hard-working women and men in the public sector who have settled this year.”
Feature Image: Classroom head desk via Shutterstock