B.C. Teachers' Federation's Jim Iker seeks face-to-face meeting with Premier Christy Clark

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      B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker has told reporters that Premier Christy Clark must get more involved in the teachers strike and employers lockout.

      Iker made the statement at a news conference today (August 31). It came a day after the mediator, Vince Ready, said there was no point continuing trying to resolve the dispute because the two sides were too far apart.

      "It's time for this government to take the issues of class size, class composition, learning specialist levels and respect for the courts seriously," Iker said. "The government's unwillingness to even consider new moves or put forward much-needed funding squandered another opportunity to get this deal done and get children and teachers back in the classrooms.

      "That's why today, I'm calling on the premier, Christy Clark, to meet with me."

      Iker also accused Education Minister Peter Fassbender and the B.C. Public Schools Employers' Association of spending time on a $40-per-day child-care-funding plan for parents rather than "preparing meaningful proposals" at the bargaining table.

      "They even called on the parties to stand down on the lockout and job action if meaningful mediation took place," Iker said. "Unfortunately over this weekend, it became clear that those commitments and promises were hollow. The government and its bargaining agent, BCPSEA, were not ready or willing to get the job done."

      He said that the BCTF scaled back its demands by $125 million this weekend. But Iker claimed that the BCPSEA was not willing to bring a single penny of new money.

      "Last year, there were more than 16,000 classes that had four or more children with special needs in them," the BCTF president said. "There were 3,800 classes with seven or more. This past school year was the worst it's ever been for class composition."

      Fassbender has already said that Iker won't get a face-to-face meeting with the premier.

      The education minister has also accused the BCTF of trying to force the government to legislate an end to the dispute.

      Iker denied this and pointed out that the premier was willing to get involved in the truckers' dispute.

      The BCTF president also claimed that the government wants a clause in the contract nullifying the union's two victories in B.C. Supreme Court granting a legal right to bargain class size and composition.

      "B.C. teachers will not bargain away everything the B.C. Supreme Court has already awarded us and we will not jeopardize any future court decision," Iker declared. "The government must back off that unreasonable request and invest money in the system now."

      He said he couldn't say when public schools will resume.

      "I'm hoping that it will be sooner rather than later," Iker stated.

      He revealed that teachers are not receiving strike pay, but said there are hardship funds to help some members of the union.




      Aug 31, 2014 at 6:25pm

      Fassbender should stop telling the public he is willing to negotiate when he won't budge on any issues.
      The union has a strike mandate from its membership so I hope they stay in solidarity.


      Aug 31, 2014 at 6:51pm

      If the premier was willing to get involved in the truckers' dispute why then is she steering so far away from meeting with the BCTF - 2 tweets is all she has to say?

      I thought she was elected to LEAD the province and come up with solutions.

      Maybe its because she cant look at the BCTF leaders and say what she is really thinking and plotting without looking like Pinoccio.

      Is it because she doesn't really care about the state of education for those that don't fit into the elite private school system?

      Is it because she is unwilling to explain the truth as to why government is insisting that she is striving to keep any and all language around class size/composition that might be won through the courts on the table and/or that her government wants to negate the court win before it even happens?

      Sure seems like all of the above to me. And a whole heck of a lot more to worry about. She has let us all down, especially our children and youth!

      Stan Mortensen

      Aug 31, 2014 at 8:02pm

      Of course, it could happen, but honestly. "Good News" Christy only pops her head out of the gopher hole when it's a done deal and makes her look good. God forbid that she would sully her hands. Nope, more likely she will let Fassbender take all the heat while she enrols he son in a private, elitist school.

      Rudy Haugeneder

      Aug 31, 2014 at 8:22pm

      Time for all government paid for services to be reduced, from health and hospital services abused by many, to education and most social services. All are under the knife -- from the cities to the provincial and federal governments -- to shrink the debt and make people responsible rather than raise income and property taxes. Unfortunately, at the same time there are not enough -- if any -- serious efforts to get the rich, the very rich, corporations, and those who never declare all their income, to pay their share regardless of where the money comes from.


      Aug 31, 2014 at 8:48pm

      Mr. Jim Iker, the people ,the taxpayer are tired of paying so much for teacher contracts. As a senior, when did we get a pension raise. As far as I am concern the teacher do not deserve anymore money. If they do not like their wages find another job.....

      Scott Ross

      Aug 31, 2014 at 11:01pm

      16000 classes with at least 4 special needs students & 3800 with 7 or more?? With those numbers they need to be going to their own school where the parents will have to kick in for some of the costs. This will lower the classroom size, allow the the teachers to concentrate more on the masses with less stress. If the teachers still feel the classes are too big then hire more teachers, at a lower salary, because there are less students and therefore less work for the teachers. We lower unemployment, control teachers wages, lower teacher's stress, give the special needs student proper attention and most of all give the majority of students a great education.


      Sep 1, 2014 at 12:15am

      Rudy: you're right about corporations and the rich getting away with not paying taxes, or at least their fair share. However, you're completely out to lunch on cutting public services. We don't have a "spending problem" in this province and country, we have a "tax problem". Not enough! This is part of the race to the bottom.
      ray: WHAAAAA!!! Quit your whining you pathetic wanker! As a senior you've already benefitted from the system (when that system was properly funded) and now that it doesn't concern you anymore, you want the funding cut back. Maybe you should of had a union job too, then you'd have a decent pension. Of course it probably wouldn't stop you from wallowing in your misery!


      Sep 1, 2014 at 7:03am

      Both France and the UK just change their education ministers this summer for trifles. Here in BC, Christy Clark maintains a minister that has had the entire profession against him for a year.


      Sep 1, 2014 at 8:06am

      I saw an interview with Iker on TV and one reporter kept asking him if he would be willing to let his members vote on the current offers, and he had nothing. He couldn't come up with a good response and I wonder if he's backed them in to a corner. Think about it. They called an unnecessary strike only one year in to a governments term, asking for more than the other unions, who seemed happy to settle, and they have nothing in the strike fund. To top it off the BCTF has been the most disruptive union in the last 20 years, even outdoing garbage collectors, nurses and postal workers.

      In addition, the BCTF has threatened children's education now with both right and left wing governments, so it's hard to pin the blame on any single political leaning and the only constant is the BCTF itself. I assume that the BCTF was lulled in to a false sense of superiority by the BC Supreme Court ruling about class size. But the ruling did not say that the BCTF had the final say on class size, only that it had to remain negotiable - nobody owns it outright.

      What I've noticed is that the overt support for teachers by parents and students at end of the school year, has now shifted to outright frustration with both parties. It's no wonder Fassbender has a permanent smirk on his face, especially since it was revealed that teachers wages/benefits/signing bonus is the main focus of the BCTF and preventing any discussion about class size.