THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Though the teachers union presented a revised list of demands to the provincial bargaining group over the weekend, a deal was not reached and the union is prepared to wage a full scale strike starting tomorrow.
However, there is still hope on both sides that a deal can be reached before the end of the school year.
B.C. Teacher’s Federation President Jim Iker broke the 'disappointing' news to teachers taking part in a study session this morning via teleconference, saying the government took nearly 48 hours to respond to a proposal and ultimately ‘squandered an opportunity’ to get students back to school.
“We tabled a bunch of changes, they were fair, reasonable and balanced,” Iker said. “We increased our term to five years… reduced our salary proposal… proposed education funds for both sides (one for class size, composition and staffing levels.)”
Iker said the government was unprepared, unwilling and unhelpful and brought nothing to the table to bring both sides closer together.
“We tabled a proposal on Friday and then waited until Sunday evening for a response, almost a full 48 hours later,” he said. “Instead of flexibility we saw more stonewalling. Instead of bargaining 24-7, the government sat on their hands for two days.”
The union executive committee will be meeting today to look at all options, but teachers will begin a full strike tomorrow Iker said.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender said in a release this morning the bargaining teams worked hard through the weekend
“The bargaining teams worked hard through the weekend. When negotiations adjourned late last night it was with the expectation that talks would continue today,” he said. “BCPSEA worked hard to put its best foot forward. They tabled a comprehensive settlement that includes an improved wage offer and commits to realistic and flexible solutions to address class composition.”
Iker did not agree with the statement and says the offer actually is a regression from previous proposals.
“What we got back was worse than what we had previously,” he said, pointing to a committee on learning conditions as an example. “Instead of supporting (they) want to strike a fact finding committee. No Premier, a committee is not good enough. We need smaller classes now. Special needs need help now. A committee would not improve class size or composition. It would allow Christy Clark to pretend.”
Teachers will remain in a study session today as part of phase two of job action. Barring any significant changes over the day a full strike will begin tomorrow across the province.
Job action began back in April and mid-May rotating strikes began. Last week teachers agreed to move to full strike action if an agreement could not be reached soon.
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-This story was updated at 3:27 p.m., June 16, 2014 to correct a minor spelling error.