Updated: Fassbender rejects BCTF arbitration call

Education Minister calls union proposal 'empty effort' giving false hope for end to B.C. teachers strike

BCTF president Jim Iker responds to the government and Premier Christy Clark

Education Minister Peter Fassbender has rejected the B.C. Teachers Federation’s call Friday for binding arbitration to end the teachers strike.

He said the BCTF never gave the province a detailed written proposal and the union’s insistence on several preconditions would have tilted arbitration in its favour.

“It became very clear that it was another empty effort to give parents and teachers a false hope that there is a simple way to resolve the dispute,” Fassbender said Saturday.

BCTF president Jim Iker urged the province to agree to arbitration and leave class size and composition to be settled by the courts, promising the union would then hold a membership vote on suspending the strike and returning to work.

Fassbender said binding arbitration hands over control to a third party and risks an outcome that compromises B.C.’s balanced budget and unacceptably damages the province’s finances.

The last use of binding arbitration by the province in 2001 led to a surprise $400-million increase in fees for B.C. doctors that prompted the government to raise the provincial sales tax by 0.5 per cent.

Fassbender remained firm that the province wants a negotiated settlement in line with the pay raises accepted by other government unions.

“The BCTF leadership is trying to avoid having the tough conversation with their members about what is realistic and achievable at the bargaining table.”

Iker reiterated the offer Sunday, calling it a “fair, workable, and pragmatic plan to end the strike, open schools, and get children back into classrooms.”

He said his only precondition is that the province drop its proposed E80clause, which allows either side to dodge the effect of a future appeal court ruling against them on class size and special needs resources.

“Their attempt to bargain their way out of their two court losses has been the biggest obstacle to a settlement,” Iker said.

Prior to the BCTF offer, government negotiator Peter Cameron said arbitration was undesirable, not just because of the financial risk to government, but because it takes the decision out of the hands of both the government and the BCTF.

“The parties end up not really having made the hard decisions and owning the outcome,” he said. “And it involves a third party, who would likely be a labour relations person rather than an educator, making educational decisions.”

VIDEO: Watch Jim Iker address above, mobile users click here.

Just Posted

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

VIDEO: Olympic medalist teaches swimming in Hope

Brent Hayden fondly remembers local swim meet from his youth

Metro gas prices hit 155.7 cents a litre and higher

Lower Mainland could see 1.60 cents by April

Free parking not in the cards for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chair says board may look at ways to make parking easier, but not free

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Vaping device overheats, burns down home on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo Fire Rescue says units could cause fires in other homes and even aircraft

LinkedIn: Top 25 places to work in Canada

LinkedIn has compiled a list of the top companies to work for in 2018

Province warning rabbit owners after confirmed cases of deadly virus

Testing confirmed feral rabbits in Nanaimo and Delta had died from rabbit hemorrhagic disease

Second suspect wanted in attack on autistic man was alleged target in 2015 shooting

Parmvir Chahil lived next door in Abbotsford to victim Ping Shun Ao, killed by stray bullet

Painting of B.C. lake by Winston Churchill sells for $87,000

Churchill had painted the work in 1929 during visit to an area near Field

New lead in one of six B.C. searches that remain unresolved

New details in case of couple who’d been flying from Cranbook to Kamloops when plane disappeared

UPDATE: Surrey man wanted in ‘vicious’ attack on autistic man has criminal history

Ronjot Singh Dhami, 25, is wanted for one count of aggravated assault

Most Read