B.C. education minister softens stand against legislating back striking teachers

B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender speaks to the media outside the premier's office in downtown Vancouver on Thursday, June, 5, 2014.
Image Credit: The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER - B.C.'s education minister is no longer ruling out back-to-work legislation as an option for ending the weeks-long teachers' strike.

Peter Fassbender has repeatedly rejected asking the legislature to force a solution, but he now says the reality is that government has the ultimate ability to legislate in any situation.

Fassbender has backed off the position he held for months, after a vote by teachers overwhelmingly in favour of binding arbitration, declaring they will start the school year if government accepts their plan.

The minister says he's still committed to getting a negotiated settlement and contends accepting the teachers' proposal of binding arbitration would compel the government to raise taxes.

Roughly 30,700 teachers cast ballots on Wednesday, with 99.4 per cent of them endorsing the process that would see teachers and government accept a contract decided by a third party.

Teachers' union leader Jim Iker says arbitration is now the fairest way to get a contract, and he accuses the government of being the only thing standing in the way of getting children back in classrooms.

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