Updated: Fassbender rejects BCTF arbitration call

Education Minister calls union proposal 'empty effort' giving false hope for end to B.C. teachers strike

BCTF president Jim Iker responds to the government and Premier Christy Clark



Education Minister Peter Fassbender has rejected the B.C. Teachers Federation’s call Friday for binding arbitration to end the teachers strike.

He said the BCTF never gave the province a detailed written proposal and the union’s insistence on several preconditions would have tilted arbitration in its favour.

“It became very clear that it was another empty effort to give parents and teachers a false hope that there is a simple way to resolve the dispute,” Fassbender said Saturday.

BCTF president Jim Iker urged the province to agree to arbitration and leave class size and composition to be settled by the courts, promising the union would then hold a membership vote on suspending the strike and returning to work.

Fassbender said binding arbitration hands over control to a third party and risks an outcome that compromises B.C.’s balanced budget and unacceptably damages the province’s finances.

The last use of binding arbitration by the province in 2001 led to a surprise $400-million increase in fees for B.C. doctors that prompted the government to raise the provincial sales tax by 0.5 per cent.

Fassbender remained firm that the province wants a negotiated settlement in line with the pay raises accepted by other government unions.

“The BCTF leadership is trying to avoid having the tough conversation with their members about what is realistic and achievable at the bargaining table.”

Iker reiterated the offer Sunday, calling it a “fair, workable, and pragmatic plan to end the strike, open schools, and get children back into classrooms.”

He said his only precondition is that the province drop its proposed E80clause, which allows either side to dodge the effect of a future appeal court ruling against them on class size and special needs resources.

“Their attempt to bargain their way out of their two court losses has been the biggest obstacle to a settlement,” Iker said.

Prior to the BCTF offer, government negotiator Peter Cameron said arbitration was undesirable, not just because of the financial risk to government, but because it takes the decision out of the hands of both the government and the BCTF.

“The parties end up not really having made the hard decisions and owning the outcome,” he said. “And it involves a third party, who would likely be a labour relations person rather than an educator, making educational decisions.”

VIDEO: Watch Jim Iker address above, mobile users click here.

Just Posted

RCMP Report

Some of the more notable files from Columbia Valley RCMP week of August 12-18th

Rossland council urges minister to kill Jumbo Glacier Resort project

Mayor writes letter panning ski resort on environmental, legal, and economic grounds

Legend of the book bike

Book fairy hands out books to lucky recipients who spot her

Summer Snack Program helps local kids in need of a good lunch

Summit Youth Centre is giving tasty, nutritious lunches and snacks to Columbia Valley kids.

Bounding into the great outdoors

Playwest Mountain Experience takes hikers into the wilderness.

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Most Read