B.C. education minister Peter Fassbender has denied the teachers’ union request to resolve the ongoing labour dispute in third party binding arbitration.
This comes just hours after BCTF president Jim Iker announced that the union’s 40,000 members will vote on binding arbitration this Wednesday if the government says “yes” to the option. Iker said a membership vote result that supports binding arbitration would end the strike.
In a press conference that began just after 3 p.m. today, Fassbender responded to the proposal, calling the union’s plans to vote on binding arbitration a “ploy” to make it look reasonable – to gain greater public support for teachers.
He says the union knew binding arbitration was not a possibility for the government yet they still decided to make their plans public by holding a press conference today. The proposal was already rejected once over the weekend as it gives a third party the authority to determine wage and benefit increases.
The government says the proposal to increase funding for new teachers and specialists from the current $75 million to $225 million is unaffordable. It would result in a tax hike of $200 for every property owner.
Fassbender also claims that they have not received a written proposal from the union on binding arbitration and are instead receiving news only through social media. He wants the union to suspend the strike so that negotiations and mediation can occur without further delaying the start of the school year.
The BCTF has said that the vote will still go ahead even with the government’s rejection of their second request to enter into binding arbitration. The results of the vote will be made available on Wednesday night.
Both parties, particularly the BCTF, have few other avenues to explore as they are unwilling to reach or consider any compromise.
Feature Image: Empty classroom via Shutterstock