Government rejects binding arbitration

VICTORIA – The government has rejected the BC Teachers’ Federation’s call for binding arbitration.


The BCTF asked the government to agree to binding arbitration in the dispute that has delayed the start of the school year and caused students to miss 18 days of school, so far.


The BC Public School Employers’ Association’s chief negotiator Peter Cameron said Saturday that he had met with mediator Vince Ready, who continues to monitor the situation, and BCTF president Jim Iker to discuss the proposal.


"After the dust settled and I had a serious look, it became very clear that this wasn’t a serious proposal," Cameron said.


In a letter to Education Minister Peter Fassbender, Cameron outlined several reasons for rejecting the call for binding arbitration. They include the requirement to drop the employers’ proposal on class size and class composition (E80), the fact that preparation time is not considered by the union to be part of wages and benefits, a Public Sector Employers’ Council policy prohibiting BCPSEA from giving a third party the authority to bind employers to a settlement that could be outside the PSEC wage and benefit mandate, and that Iker "made it clear that he wasn’t interested in the consideration of any fiscal parameters."


Iker said in response that the offer to enter arbitration or mediation would remain open. He said the only precondition is that proposal E80, which he called the government’s attempt to undo their court losses, be dropped.


"It is a fair, workable and pragmatic plan to end the strike, open schools, and get children back into classrooms," Iker said.


No further talks are scheduled.