No end in sight to teachers' strike: Parents can begin registering children for $40 per day payments

Dec 19 2017, 7:54 pm

There is no end in sight to the full-scale public school teachers’ strike in British Columbia.

The strike that began two weeks before summer vacation in June will continue into the new school year, beginning on Tuesday when school was scheduled to reopen.

Labour mediator Vince Meady walked out of the room over the weekend as the two parties are still too far apart for mediation.

“I wish I could tell British Columbians when students will be back in school. But right now, I don’t see any quick or easy solutions,” said Minister of Education Peter Fassbender.

“Unfortunately, the BCTF leadership has stubbornly refused every effort to reach a fair deal and they have even refused to give teachers a chance to vote on suspending the pickets while an agreement is mediated. I worry the BCTF leadership is actually counting on government to legislate an end to this strike so they can avoid having a difficult conversation with their members about what is realistic and achievable.”

He added that enacting legislation would keep the province in the same “dysfunctional treadmill” that has been endured between the teachers’ union and the provincial government for the past 30 years.

The province will not change its position and has every intention to stand firm and hope the union leadership comes around to “getting serious” about a negotiating a fair agreement. Fassbender says the gap is still more than $300 million between what the government has offered and what the union wants.

“The gap is much bigger than what the BCTF has been making it out to be, which was that the parties were close on all matters except class size and composition. Over the past few days, it’s been a very different story behind closed doors.”

“The union made no substantive effort to get anywhere near the zone on wages and benefits. Their moves were so small that their compensation demands remain nearly double what 150,000 other B.C. public-sector workers have settled for. They even insist on a special $5,000 signing bonus that no one else received.”

“It is wrong and misguided for the BCTF leadership to expect a bigger compensation package than all other public-sector workers simply because they are willing to shut down schools.”

Meanwhile, BCTF president Jim Iker has called Premier upon Christy Clark to meet with him and discuss a fair settlement. Clark has been quiet in public on addressing the strike, although she made the following tweets yesterday:

Iker has been adamant that the BCTF has cut down its package, while claiming the government has not brought anything to the table and refuses to address class size, composition, and teaching assistant staff levels. He says the union has trimmed its package by $125 million during the most recent negotiations and that “the government did not indicate they were willing to make any meaningful moves in return.”

The government is appealing the court’s decision made earlier this year that sided with teachers’ on their union rights to bargain for class size and support.

Since the labour dispute began, the union and provincial government have completed 71 bargaining sessions.

To assist with daycare and tutoring costs, parents and guardians are eligible to receive $40 per school day for every child age 12 or under that attends public school. This requires online registration at the government’s new website; parents will have four months from the end of the month of the labour disruption to register their child for payments.

Registration confirms a child’s enrolment in a public school as well as the mailing address for where the cheque will be mailed to.

The government originally said payments would be made only after the strike ends, but it has since changed the policy – that payments will be made beginning later this month and October. The program’s funding comes from the existing budget allocated to operate schools per day.

To register your child, click here.


Feature Image: Teachers’ strike via Shutterstock

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