Judge finds no ground for teacher mediation

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher found two sides too far apart for a settlement

B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has concluded the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. government are too far apart on wages and working conditions for mediation to be effective.

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and the BCTF confirmed Wednesday that Justice Stephen Kelleher has taken part in “exploratory” talks in recent days to seek an end to the teacher strike that wiped out the last two weeks of the school year.

“He had some exploratory discussions with the parties and determined that mediation is not indicated at this time,” said an agreed statement by both parties.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the BCTF’s total compensation demands are still more than twice what other government unions have settled for.

The union’s benefit demands alone represent an additional $225 million a year, Fassbender said. Those include increases to preparation time, pregnancy and parental leave, extended health and dental and substitute teacher compensation.

“There is no process and no mediator that can bridge this gap at this time,” Fassbender said. “To pretend otherwise only raises false expectations and serves to delay the tough decisions the BCTF executive needs to make to get to an affordable agreement.”

BCTF president Jim Iker said the government placed unacceptable pre-conditions on wage negotiations going to mediation.

“At this point, with the government maintaining entrenched positions that are unfair and unreasonable, mediation will not be able to move forward,” Iker said. “We will keep the lines of communication open in July to restart bargaining if the government is ready to make a real effort and bring the necessary funding to the table.”

BCPSEA has proposed a 7% pay increase over six years, plus a $1,200 signing bonus with a deadline that expired June 30. The BCTF has countered 8% over five years with a proposed $5,000 bonus, to make up for a year the union has worked under an expired contract.

BCPSEA has calculated the cost of the union’s position on class size and composition at $1.67 billion. That dispute has been the subject of a series of court actions and the B.C. Court of Appeal is expected to rule on it in the fall.

Fassbender said the latest offer is to guarantee $75 million in each year of a new contract for special needs support.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Neighbour’s quick actions save dogs and home in Chilliwack townhouse fire

Neighbour heard fire alarm and called 911 and rescued dogs from unit on fire

60 middle school students in one Abbotsford classroom? It’s true, stunned parent is told

Parent says she was in disbelief when her son told her he was in a class with 60 other kids

No confirmed candidates in either Chilliwack riding for snap election

Both ridings went to BC Liberals in 2017 but no candidates announced on day election is called

COVID-19 testing lineup wraps around block in Chilliwack

Testing lineup includes seniors, children and their parents as demand seems to surge

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Former worker at Surrey brewery claims he was bullied on the job

Human rights complaint to be heard against Surrey’s Central City Brewers and Distillers Ltd.

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mission poker player missing in Nevada is found alive and safe

Brad Booth went missing in July 13, found in mid September

Most Read