Don’t expect a deal in the BCTF labour dispute anytime soon.
The media blackout has lifted, but the news is not good.
Mediator and BC Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher has chatted with both sides.
He feels they’re too far apart right now for a mediator to accomplish much.
BCTF President Jim Iker calls it extremely disappointing.
“We’re hoping government will have a change of mind, a change of heart, come into mediation with an open mind and no restrictions to that and let’s get this done.”
Iker also says there’s been no movement from the province on class size or composition.
Iker adds the two sides are now within one-per cent on salary and only a year apart on term something he says puts the two sides into mediation territory.
“We will keep the lines of communication open in July to restart bargaining if the government is ready to make real effort and bring the necessary funding back to the table. We are ready anytime to re-engage Justice Kelleher.”
Education Minister Peter Fassbender says “there is no process and no mediator that can bridge this gap at this time.”
He says the union continues to ask for twice as much as other unions have settled for.
“While they have moved on wages alone, there is still 225 million dollars in benefits that Mr.Iker has not referred to in any of his comments.”
But Fassbender says the government doesn’t plan to move towards back-to-work legislation if a deal isn’t reached by September, but it is a possibility.
“We put a very comprehensive offer on the table the last offer that we put on and we told the BCTF that that was very much as close to what we could afford within our balanced budget.”
He is calling on the teacher’s union to move into “the affordability zone” in order for the two sides to get back to the table.