British Columbia teachers lengthen strike, delay school year

Peninsula Daily News and news sources

VICTORIA — A summer-long strike of 40,000 British Columbia schoolteachers will extend into what was to be the first day of the new school year today.

B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender said Sunday that the provincial government will not legislate the striking British Columbia Teachers Federation back to work, thus delaying fall classes indefinitely.

“The reality is there is still over $300 million of gap between what the government has put on the table that is in keeping with the other public section unions [received in contract agreements] and what the BCTF is asking for,” Fassbender told a news conference while announcing that the start of classes will be delayed.

Fassbender said there was no indication when negotiations might resume in talks that broke down Saturday when veteran mediator Vince Ready walked away from the two sides in the dispute.

“Needless to say, I'm very disappointed for students and parents and teachers that I'm standing here today addressing an issue that I hoped would have a different outcome than we face,” he said.

Teachers federation president Jim Iker was not available for comment, but the union responded to Fassbender's comments on Twitter by restating that it had already changed its demands.

“Over the weekend in talks with Vince Ready, the BCTF trimmed its package by $125 million,” a Twitter message said.

The teachers went on strike two weeks before the end of the school year in June, booting a half-million students out of class before summer vacation.

The sticking points of the dispute are wages and issues such as class size and composition.

Last modified: September 01. 2014 9:25PM
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