In a press conference Friday morning, BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker called on government to enter into binding arbitration to bring an end to the teachers’ strike.
With productive negotiations not happening between the teachers’ union and the provincial government, Iker says binding arbitration is the “fastest, most fair option” to get teachers back in the classroom.
Iker says the BCTF wants to let the courts deal with the issues dividing the province’s leadership and the teachers’ union. However, entering into binding arbitration, insists Iker, is for the province to drop E80, the shorthand code for the matter of class size and composition, as well as special education instruction.
Global explains that according to British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association Framework for Settlement, proposal E80 deals with the “learning and working conditions” in the classroom.
Because the matter is already in the courts, Iker believes it is appropriate to leave that issue to the courts, and let the binding arbitration resolve the matters of pay and benefits swiftly so that teachers–and kids–can get back to school.
Calling for the removal of E80 from the current settlement is a major shift for the BCTF, who have put a tremendous amount of focus on the matter of class size and composition being the core issue in the strike.
“It’s about us finding a solution,” explains Iker of the change of course.
Should the government agree to binding arbitration, BCTF members would participate in a province-wide vote to determine whether to end the strike.
Earlier this week, Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver told CKNW binding arbitration was the only solution:
“It is where the rubber hits the road. There is no more posturing by government. There is no more outlandish claims. You have to put it down there and the Chief Justice would come up with a position that most British Columbians would get behind. They would have to recognize issues before court. They would have to recognize the financial ability of the province to pay.”
Previously, the provincial government has rejected the idea of binding arbitration with the BCTF.
Featured image: Jim Iker speaks at a press conference, Sept. 5, 2014 (Screenshot/Livestream)