Rotating teachers strikes to continue next week

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

Parents should start planning for extra child care as the BC Teachers Federation announces rotating strikes will continue through next week.

Every school in the province will be behind picket lines for one day next week-either Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Union President Jim Iker says no substantive progress was made at the bargaining table today.

“We need a commitment from government that their willing to move on key issues of smaller class sizes for our students come September, class composition guarantees, and minimum levels for specialist teachers.”

He says the government needs to bring more funding to the table to address issues like class size, composition and staffing levels.

“We also need them to come to the table with a fair and reasonable wage offer. We’ve just come off two years of legislated zeros, and so far what the’ve offered is another two years, and that’s not acceptable.”

Schools across the province will be closed for one day next week-either Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender is not happy the BC Teachers Federation has decided to continue rotating strikes next week.

“I’m profoundly disappointed that while we’re still at the table, with all of the talk that’s been going on, that children and parents and communities are continuing to be held hostage and put in the middle of this dispute, it’s unfortunate.”

But Fassbender says the government does not plan to legislate an end to the rotating strikes or to impose a contract.

He adds if the union cancels its strike, the government will lift its lockout of teachers.

Fassbender is again rejecting the idea of a legislated cooling off period or contract.

“And I think we need to break that cycle of dysfunction when it comes to bargaining with the BCTF and the only way to do that is for both of us to be at the table, willing to bargain, as we’ve done with other public sector unions.”

Fassbender insists the government has made significant moves at the bargaining table–the union has not.

Meanwhile the teacher’s union and government negotiators will meet at the Labour Relations Board to discuss the government’s partial lockout, and a proposed 10-percent cut on teacher’s pay.

The BCTF and the government’s negotiators are scheduled for a hearing at the Labour Relations Board tomorrow over lockout provisions which includes a proposed pay cut for teachers.

The Ministry of Education confirms the province saves 12-million dollars a week from teachers rotating strikes.

The government also saves around 1.2 million dollars a day from the 10-percent wage reductions on the backs of teachers.

That means the province could save close to 40-million dollars by the end of next week.

80-percent is held centrally, and 20-percent is retained by school districts.

The government says it will decide how to use the funds at a later date.

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