BCTF president Jim Iker and Education Minister Peter Fassbender hold duelling news conferences

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B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker says his union has put forward a "fair and reasonable framework for a deal that would see improved learning conditions for our students on the first school day in September".

"However, two more days of bargaining have gone by with no progress or counter-offers from government and BCPSEA [B.C. Public School Employers' Association]," Iker said at a news conference this afternoon. "British Columbians expect their government to be reasonable and to be flexible. But we haven't seen any will from government on the key issues around the learning conditions of our students."

As a result, Iker has called on Premier Christy Clark to agree to the appointment of a mediator.

Iker's statement came not long after Education Minister Peter Fassbender spoke at a morning news conference in which he claimed that the employer had "tabled an affordable, creative, and comprehensive package to end the stalemate, get kids back in school, and create long-term stability for parents, students, and teachers."

The two news conferences didn't resolve the full-scale teachers strike, which is in its third day.

The BCTF is seeding a five-year contract with an eight percent salary increase and signing bonus.

The union is also seeking a $225-million "annual workload fund to address issues of class size, class composition, and staffing ratios as an interim measure" until a B.C. government appeal is heard of a recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling.

In that ruling, Justice Susan Griffin concluded that the government tried to provoke a teachers strike.

The BCPSEA claims that the BCTF's demands amount to a 14.5 percent increase in total compensation over five years, which is well above public-sector collective agreements to date.

“That comprehensive offer for settlement included the special $1,200 signing bonus for a deal by June 30, an improved wage offer, guaranteed funding for class composition, and bridging provisions to address the court case," Fassbender said. “The comprehensive package is fully in line with the wage increases and affordable agreements already reached by nearly 150,000 public sector workers.  It was not tabled lightly. It was made clear to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation that we put our best possible offer on the table and it was aimed at concluding this round of bargaining." 

Iker's statement noted that the courts have twice found that the government has infringed on teachers' constitutional rights by passing legislation to "strip $275 million out of our system per year from education".

"That has meant 12 years of cuts, larger classes, reduced support for children with special needs and less one-on-one time with our students," he said. 

Iker also noted that the B.C. government funds education at $1,000 per student less than the Canadian average as a result of "Christy Clark's unconstitutional legislation".

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stopngo

Jun 20, 2014 at 7:10am

Shame on the BCTF for such childish arguments

moe

Jun 20, 2014 at 10:35am

Have you seen the latest inflation figures for May? The government is unwilling to address cost of living and inflation, and thus in essence are offering a demotion in pay… not to mention they won't even address the criminality in stripping provisions about class size and composition. Shame on the government & shame on You!

ger

Jun 20, 2014 at 12:37pm

Moe, you've got to be careful when using statistics. While Canada's inflation rate rose in May, the rate in BC was 0%.

rkt

Jun 20, 2014 at 2:08pm

As a teacher, I get paid either way whether or not we have classroom composition. The BENEFIT is to the students.

Break the BCTF

Jun 20, 2014 at 2:27pm

The BCTF is in a weaker position than ever before and the time has come to break them. Reports of the strike fund already running out, the Surrey Teachers Association opening a food bank, the Ontario teachers union's charitable donation to prop up the BCTF followed by calls for mediation show leadership is out of ideas. They know their bluff has been called and the government can let the school year end without a settlement. The lack of financial planning or preparation by the BCTF or individual full-time teachers for a long strike does not speak well of their sense of reality.

The government should offer a contract that offers zero salary or benefits increases for teachers but meets all student centric demands. This will force the BCTF to either cave in or admit that it isn't actually about "the kids" but about salary packets. Accepting the deal would force the union back to work with their tail between their legs but rejecting the deal would turn soft support against them. It really would be the best of both worlds for the government to make such an offer but only when the school year ends. Iker is desperate for something to claim as a "victory" but at this stage there is no reason for government to play along: the strike fund will be deleted once again but BCTF executives won't miss a pay cheque.

BAU

Jun 20, 2014 at 3:28pm

To "Break the BCTF", the teachers did negotiate for a 0% increase in wages in 1998 & 1999. They negotiated this deal to maintain class size and composition. The government stripped this from their contract in 2002. The issue went to the court in 2011 and the government lost the case as it was declared unconstitutional. The government lost again in January of this year, stating the governments actions to be unconstitutional again. This government has defied the Supreme Court on two occasions, most of which still surrounding the same issue of class size and composition. Zero percent wage increases were imposed again in 2004, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Let's not forget that the government has been order by the Supreme Courts to return classroom size and composition to pre stripped levels in 2002. It's time for the government to comply with court ruling. I would say that teachers are committed to our children.

Gary

Jun 20, 2014 at 4:22pm

BCTF, a sad saga. Shame on you! Totally unrealistic demands, totally out step with the times and outright greedy. President is too whiny and his rhetoric boarders on dishonesty. Stay on the P Line until September, then come back with a proposal that is not simply silly. Sorry to the great teachers that are on the outside looking in.

TiredofTaxes

Jun 20, 2014 at 4:22pm

"fair and reasonable framework" WTF..... is he in dreamland?

Tommy

Jun 20, 2014 at 7:40pm

"Break the BCTF" - Perhaps it's time to come to terms with the fact that Education (as we currently know it) will never be the same again. Teachers are willingly taking a stand for better working and learning conditions. Yes, this will also include higher salaries for educators. This current "change" will indeed be highly expensive.....and extremely appropriate. Please try to understand - teachers will return to work when the children receive better learning conditions, and when teachers are compensated appropriately. This is the "new" future of education in BC - simply put.

bobo

Jun 20, 2014 at 9:06pm

Tommy, teachers already earn an average annual salary of $70,000 - according to their own president. That's more than the average person in BC earns and is more than adequate considering they only work 9 months and receive a generous extended health package and a pension plan that taxpayers contribute to. And BAU, you state that teachers failed to get a raise in 2004, 2005, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Most working people probably didn't get a salary increase every year either. Does that mean they DID get a wage increase in 2000, 2001,2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008,2009, and 2010? The fact that you think teachers should get a wage increase every year speaks volumes about how teachers feel entitled to keep digging in the taxpayers pocket. After all, that is where any salary increase will come from. You guys need to get real. The public DOES NOT support your actions.

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