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Teachers’ union has plan to get school back in session

The teachers' union says it is willing to suspend strike action if the government is willing enter binding arbitration.
September 05, 2014 - 11:24 AM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Just two days after saying the union would not consider a vote to suspend the current strike Jim Iker, the teachers’ union president, says they would recommend members vote to suspend the strike if the government is willing to agree to binding arbitration.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation president says this is another option to getting the labour dispute resolved.

“We’re putting forward another option to resolve this dispute,” Iker says. “It depends on how quickly the government will agree… then we’ll put the process in place, put it to members. We want sooner rather than later, but it all depends on the government.”

Iker explains a key piece to getting teachers to agree to entering binding arbitration and standing down on the strike is to have government remove the clause (E80) that deals with the ongoing class size and composition court case.

“Government needs to drop the proposal to negotiate away the recent court decision and any future decision,” Iker says. “This is us looking for another solution and hoping government will agree. We’re hoping government will change its mind on this, it’s the fastest way to end this.”

Even if government does agree it would still take several days before school could be back in session.

“Once government agrees we’ll go to a vote, then take time to get the classrooms ready and then we can open the schools.” Iker says. “We’ll recommend it to our members, and we’ll be back at work.”

Education Minister Peter Fassbender has asked the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, the negotiating party for the province, to remove a lock out on teachers while the two sides enter mediation. While the association agreed, the teachers’ union has not yet agreed to step back from strike action.

Teachers have been engaged in a full strike since June at which point schools closed at least a week earlier than planned. This week students were set to go back to school but school was cancelled when negotiations through mediation broke down between the teachers’ union and the government.

“Hopefully government will reconsider (binding arbitration) as we have,” Iker says. “(We looked at) how can we find a way for it, what are the options open to us? We’ve been at the bargaining table for 18 months.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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