June 19, 2014 - 1:19 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN — There is still a major gap between the teachers' union and the government when it comes to a new collective agreement and the education minister says as it sits the union’s proposal simply is not affordable.
“We are not even close to where we need to be to get a negotiated agreement,” Peter Fassbender says. “We need to bridge the gap between the demands put on the table by BCTF and those the government feel are affordable for taxpayers.”
Fassbender says there is a lot of misinformation from the B.C. Teachers' Federation, whether intentional or not, and the government wants to set the record straight.
“We feel teachers deserve a raise. We want to provide teachers of this province with a settlement… with stability,” he says. “(But) there is a significant gap that still exists in the affordability zone. The other party has to be closer to what is realistic and affordable. We cannot, on behalf of taxpayers, afford that.”
The minister says he is disappointed with how things have gone at the bargaining table but there are no plans to legislate teachers back to work at any point.
“We respect the role teachers play, but not at the expense of everything else as a government we have to do… health care, social services,” Fassbender says. “We want a settlement that’s fair for teachers, but we also want a settlement that’s fair to taxpayers (and) we want a settlement by June 30.”
Fassbender also says they are willing to consider mediation, as the union requested in a statement Monday morning.
“We are open to anything that will bring us to an agreement. We are prepared to do anything we can,” Fassbender says, adding, “How long it lasts is entirely in the hands of BCTF.”
The costing of the most recent proposals has been done and the union proposal includes an ongoing cost increase (in year five) ranging from $661-million to $2.1-billion, as well as the one time singing bonus of $150-million.
Teachers began job action in April with reduced communication and supervisory duties. A month later rotating strikes began and three weeks into the second phase the intention to move to a full strike was announced. The full strike began this Tuesday when an agreement could not be reached over the weekend.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014