Teachers’ union continues push for binding arbitration
by Jennifer Stahn
B.C. Teachers' Federation President Jim Iker is still pushing for binding arbitration.
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September 08, 2014 - 12:11 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Even after the B.C. government said no to binding arbitration this weekend, the teachers’ union won't give up hope. The union feels arbitration could end the strike and get its members a fair settlement.
“Binding arbitration is a fair, practical and pragmatic approach,” B.C. Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker said Monday morning at a media conference. “Today we’re giving government another chance. We’re prepared to stand behind our plan and put it to a vote.”
Iker hopes having members vote to end the strike will show the government they are serious about binding arbitration. The only stipulation from the union is government remove the clause (E80) dealing with the ongoing court case on class size and composition.
“We’re committed to this process,” Iker said. “We’re hoping the government will change it’s mind. All they have to do is say yes.”
Iker said they spent hours on Friday and Saturday discussing the framework for binding arbitration before Education Minister Peter Fassbender said Sunday the government would not agree to binding arbitration. Iker noted the government seemed to be against the idea even before they sat down to talk about it.
“It’s a political knee-jerk reaction. They gave weak excuses but not a solid reason to say no,” he said. “The government continues to say no. We keep trying to find a way forward. (Binding arbitration) is the easiest solution after 18 months of bargaining.”
Members will vote on binding arbitration on Wednesday whether the government agrees to the process or not, so when government is ready to move to binding arbitration the union is all ready to move.
“We’re being optimistic,” he said. “This is a very important question. We need a resolution to this dispute.”
Results of the vote are expected Wednesday night.
If the government does agree to binding arbitration, teachers will end the strike. It would take teachers a couple of days to get classrooms set up, then students will be able to return to class.
All half a million of British Columbia's public school students remain locked out of their classrooms at the start of the second week of the school year as the teachers strike continues.
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