Updates: Deal in BCTF dispute seems far away

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Updates: Deal in BCTF dispute seems far away

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.


  1. So is this guy credible? Christy said no one credible would get involved or was that wishful thinking on her part so she could keep screwing public education and teachers.

  2. It’s really not that complicated. The sticking point is that the government refuses to budge on class size/composition issues. This despite a BC Supreme Court ruling to the contrary. When the government finally decides to adhere to the rule of law then this dispute will be resolved. The problem is that the decision has come out against then Minister of Education Christy Clark. She simply refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing then or now. Time to take responsibility for your choices Ms. Clark.

    • You’re right, it’s not at all complicated. Only one public union has failed to reach a timely and successful settlement. The Premier and Mr Fassbender are doing exactly the right thing. If this government (with a clear fresh mandate to protect the BC economy) acted any differently they would fail the many voters that elected them. Have you considered that Iker is simply not up to the job and is failing the teachers of BC with his continual stalling, double-talk and bumbling? I will fully support the government’s firm stand against the unrealistc demands of this militant union for as long as it takes.

      • Short changing education leads to savings now, but costs more in the long term. The consequence of decimating special education services now is more costs for welfare and other social services, including police, attorney general, addictions. and health care in the future. And I am talking not just about the kids in our schools today, but also the kids those kids are going to have in just a few years from now.

        If you don’t get what I am talking about then you don’t get what many special education services are all about today.

        • Wow! Are you suggesting the homeless, drug using, lawless scoundrels in society are/will be a direct result of our failure to be convinced of the BCTF’s self-serving demands and funding theories? It’s amazing that we have any engineers, nurses, lawyers and trades people beginning their careers. I wonder if maybe social pressure, poor parenting and wrong personal decisions could be factors in the problems you fear?

          • I am very definitely making the true statement that the erosion of special education services will without fail lead to increases in drug addiction, homelessness, crime and the generational perpetuation of failure. As I said, if you don’t get that then you don’t understand what special education is today and the kinds of difficulties being addressed by special education services and the kinds of impacts special education services can have on children and youth and the impacts that will flow from an erosion of those services. None of what I have said is hyperbole, and none of it is theoretical. I know many individual students who are very definitely negatively impacted by the inability of our society to provide them with appropriate educational interventions. The cuts we are facing now will definitely come back to bite us. By “us” I am including you.

          • Ron, Thomas point is credible. Did you know that in some US states they predict prison populations based upon success in grade 3? The other factors you note are also contributing factors, but where those factors are dominant, children at risk can be rescued if educational resources are available. This is one of the reasons I support public education; not because of the bctf.

          • There will be a ripple effect if educators can’t service the needs of students who are falling behind their peers whether they are designated or not. If a student can’t get the support in school, they become more vulnerable and at risk and simply feel they are too “dumb” and give up on school all together when in fact all they needed while in school was more learning support to grasp the concepts or strategies that would help them in their literacy skills. In turn, that student falls between the cracks which could lead to a life of crime, homelessness and drug addiction. If we keep underfunding special education, there will be more strain of the health care and legal system of BC. So the real problems we “fear” could potentially be avoided if the government properly funded an educational system that is healthy and where teachers both classroom and special education teachers aren’t stretched too thin in their daily duties. This post has nothing to do with wages and benefits; more learning support is simply needed.

          • @ Thomas The thing is that special education has been totally polluted with too many categories and too many demands. The entire special needs requirements need to be routed and a more logical system put in place.

            The Education system has become more like a social services outfit dealing with mentally challenged and a number of students that should not be even considered.

      • Ron_26, the problem is not the wages and benefits – those are distractions from the real issue; class size/composition and the pending appeal decision. If the union agreed to abandon the appeal decision, you and I both know, there would be a settlement in an instance.

        • Yes, we’ve agreed on that before LorAx. I still firmly believe that the BCTF are NOT the ones to demand their constricting simplistic formula on class size/composition. This must be dealt with by government along with the expertice of teachers, administrators, psychologists, counsellors, accountants, etc. The union should never have been given a foot-hold in these decisions and it somehow needs to be put back firmly in the hands of those elected by all British Columbians. Only the party forming government can be really accountable to the voting public – not the BCTF.

      • You right wingers always talk about the BC economy what you really mean is that balanced budget at all cost or they would fail the many voters that elected them, but you neglected to say how many kids have been hurt by the same Government for over a decade to get the best education equal to the private schools.Why does this government and people like yourself take pleasure in seeing that the kids who’s parents can least afford the very best education(funding cuts) within the public schools to compete with the likes of the private kids for the high paying Jobs in BC’s future.why are kids in the public system treated like second class citizens ,is this the future,to beat the Teachers into submission to be yes men and women to teach their students for the second class employment? How many kids in the private schools are lining up for the trades? The BC liberals stand for nothing more than lower your full potential to work the mundane Jobs and stay well below the affluent, if your kids attended public school and be the yes men and women to those of the private schools with higher education levels that should be in the public system as well if funding were restored as order by the court.

      • Ha! Good one – probably done by a teacher who’s a little long in the tooth and should have retired years ago. Or maybe s/he did retire, but has since returned in a TOC role to pad the pension, while denying a new teacher work.

      • You agree that they should never be involved in politics and never vote like they do today, kids should be front and center to know what is good government .They should learn all about politics at a younger age someone has to teach them. The young person in the photo will get nothing if the public schools continue to be gutted with funding cuts to balance a bloody budget. This is how much Kids mean to this Government and it’s supporters,a balanced budget at all costs, then call it the BC economy.

        • No Ken, children need education, which includes citizenship and how our system is organized, when it is age appropriate. They do NOT need to be used as a pawn in a political battle. With respect, you are wrong on this one. We need to insulate children from adult issues.

          • You will say the same to someone that is going to high school and is 18, the status quo is keeping kids away at voting time and many just are intimidated to go to the polling stations when do we teach our kids to be involved? Engagement is what the right will never want! Education for the public schools will be always short changed for the affluent!

  3. Ok. So, no settlement before September. What’s going to happen is that there is going to be a bunch of people who will see an opportunity in this. These people will get private schools up and running as quickly as possible. Twelve percent of students in BC already attend private schools and when September comes around and the public schools are still shut down many parents will be willing to accept the extra expense of private schools. So, here’s the thing. Because private schools only get half the per student funding of public schools, the government saves between 3 and 4 thousand for each of these students. This government will be delighted. Will the education be as good? Most likely not, but that’s not the point. The point is that public expense goes down, taxes can stay low, and it will be yet another step toward the full private school model this government is striving for.

    • I have yet to figure out where this grand government plot against public education comes from. I’ve never heard even a whisper of such an idea from any government, yet the keyed up TF’rs keep coming back to it over and over as some doom and gloom secret underhanded plan. Even though it’s well known that independent schools (with the identical curriculum as public) have a great success rate, every parent has had the right to choose a public or private school for decades. There’s nothing new here.

      • Actually I did hear an interview in which someone from the Campbell government did state that the erosion of the public education system was a deliberate strategy intended to increase the development of the private system. But no, I do not have a name, so I suppose that doesn’t really count. If you are observing the situation carefully however, and if you listen to what the premier has and does say, then it is a reasonable conclusion that the erosion of the public system is of little concern to this government.

        • Oh. I see. An interview that you remember from a few years back from a whole different government with someone you can’t remember.
          Sorry, but my recent (or past) observations do not suggest any such strategy.

          • The interview was just a few months ago, and our current premier was the Minister of Education at that time. Ron_26, I did not expect you to accept my comment and I made that clear in my previous comment. It’s what I heard, and it goes without saying that we both observing this situation from different perspectives.

          • Ron_26, seriously – do you think anyone in government would disclose such a strategy to the public. These occur in cabinet discussions and are implemented quietly as the public moves to acceptance. That’s how it’s done. So don’t be surprised – Thomas is reading the relevant signals which lead to a logical and inescapable conclusion.

        • You have nailed it Thomas. The strategy is to move to a private school system with corporate sponsorship and vouchers from the Government. The problem is that not all students will qualify for entry to a private school, which erodes the educational delivery in public schools. This will not happen overnight but it will happen. Ron_26 is right, private schools have a great success rate, but primarily because they chose students. That’s a logical advantage.

          • Could it not be because they choose the teachers? They fire, yes fire, the ones who are not good teachers. Some teachers can only hold their jobs because of the protection of the union.
            There aren’t any segments in the work force where people aren’t periodically fired for incompetence or whatever. Oh, yes, wait a minute. Teachers. All teachers are perfect.

          • @ Rose. You do know that teachers do get fired and lose their teaching certification. Just like any other career out there, some do a better job than others. Doctors, lawyers, nurses, policeman, firemen and even politicians can do outstanding work and others not so much. So what’s your point?

          • @Rose, Ok. Fair enough. Trust me Class size composition plays a major role in private schools. My child benefitted from a very good private education. All children deserve an equal opportunity, regardless of socio-economic factors. It costs a lot of money to educate all children and give them opportunity Education opens opportunity. In the long run we all benefit. We need to address the learning conditions in our class rooms

  4. Sign the contract and then be even more patient with the class size and class composition issue. Libs will eventually lose on that issue; AGAIN !
    Their days are numbered on that one.
    In the mean time, teachers, students and parents lose out on that issue for another year or two. Parents that have kids enrolled in public education should be fighting that battle.
    Teachers should ask for a nice fat raise and agree to fill their classrooms with 40-45 kids. The Libs will be happier than pigs in poop, as the Factory cranks up production. Let the needy fall through the cracks and eventually the voters (parents) will get it.

  5. Government wants a clause to void contract…by their won estimates…it would cost over 300 million now to put back what they illegally took out. They offered 75 million in LIF funding which was not guaranteed to now it would be guaranteed. So they by their own estimates want to short change education by 225 million. As a parent I want an answer to why they not willing to put in more that 75 million to help with returning the specialist teachers that are missing. Enough of balancing your books on the back of our public education system

  6. I see a number of you on this post seem to think something magical is going to happen in Sept. IT isn’t.
    You are still going to be on Strike, still not receiving any pay. The Government is not going to bail you out this time. They are Not going to Legislate you back. Your problem, you solve it.
    It seems almost everyone can see where the deal is, except the Teachers.
    When you do go back, it will be for almost exactly the same as offered before your Strike.

    So who is teaching who a lesson?

  7. Both sides are to blame but in the end the government will win. Definitely not right, especially how it relates to the class size piece of the puzzle, which appears Clark doesn’t want to address in any way. Maybe the teachers should take another strike vote before September 2nd. It could be a long September for many.

  8. Class size is a red herring. Keep it where it is presently and work with it. Get the special needs kids out of the regular,classrooms and into their own with teachers that are qualified in their requirements and finally scrap all the current benefits and start over and be realistic in what is given out.

      • I guess they would not have an option. I also think they would be out numbered. I also agree with scraping all the current benefits and staring over. They still don’t have enough though. They still want more. Iker says they are close only 1% apart but he fails to mention the demands for further benefits. Who doesn’t tell the whole truth here?
        This group of militant narcissistic teachers have never been satisfied with a contract they have had. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they aren’t satisfied now. I think they would just keep moving the goal posts no matter what was offered.
        Leave them walking the streets for the summer. They voted for it. They can thank their militant leader . Maybe he can throw his paycheck into the food bank.

    • Class size and composition was not the issue when children with special needs were not included in regular class rooms. Your suggestion would go a long way to addressing class size and composition issues. It will however not be popular with some parents.

  9. but do all the other unions nave to have a high degree of education like the teachers have to??? You can’t com,pare teachers to other public sector unions ans they don’t have to spend several years in university before they can enter the profession!! Yeas this is a profession – public sector unions aren’t!

    • So you’re saying that a university degree is a more difficult way to success than someone getting a ” trade ” and being successful ? Suggest you dump your elitist attitude and face reality. There are more university grads working in dead end low paying service jobs than people with a good trade. My auto mechanic who owns his own shop, nets more $ yearly than my Doctor……

      • People will be surprised that your Doctor and your mechanic have disclosed to you what most people consider to be confidential information respecting income. However, there are statistics available from States Canada which call into question the information you rely upon. But no one should be surprised, as it is not uncommon for you to formulate opinions on totally unsupported evidence. You and Dwight share this propensity – are you the same poster?

        That said, keep in mind teachers invest in their education, graduate with student loans, and have missed economic opportunity while in school – Your mechanic did not have these start up costs. This fact sets teachers apart from other unions

        • Lorax get your facts right. Mechanics pay for their own tools, which are costly, and he also bought his business which is far, far greater expense than a four year university degree. As to the income information, you have no idea as to either what I do or have done, nor what my family is employed at. I know of what I speak. Try to keep an open mind and remember to put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion.

    • Years in university are not required to follow a curriculum. Children can be taught by parents who are able to take the time to research what their children need to learn.

      • Then quit your job and do it. Just because you can sit at the kitchen table and help your one child with their homework doesn’t make you a qualified teacher. Try it with 30 kids who have different learning abilities. I have three kids…all very different…I wouldn’t claim to be able to do the job of a teacher.

        • Actually my wife and I have more than one and more than three that are home schooled. It actually isn’t a full time job and the children haven’t missed a day of school due to job action. You wouldn’t claim to be able to do the job of a teacher because you haven’t tried.

      • Ron, – it’s not a pedestal, its a fact. I’m impressed with people who persevere – its not easy and you incur a lot of debt. Look even our Premier did not persevere in university; her income is $184,000.00 per year plus an expense account. Not suggesting teachers should earn that, but many earn a measly $55,000.00 and don’t have an not expense account. We need to look at things in perspective. So, from my perspective, Ted’s opening post is a fair comment.

        • Sorry. Apples and oranges. One’s value, importance, or power is not determined by the amount or lack of formal post secondary. It may or may not be a factor to one’s measure of success. I could easily gloat too, but that would serve no purpose would it?

        • For a lot of people Teds comments are infuriating .further degradation of support from the public for teachers . Did you know that for a lot of these other trade union as you refer to despairingly You have to have some university or a degree . Most policemen have a degree . They have one before or earn one during service . Most firemen have a trade designation before entering the fire department .For myself I have some university and a ticket . So policemen put their lives on the line with every shift . Firemen do the same with every call . Myself I put everything on the line . If I make a mistake and it is proven negligence or due to substance abuse. I can be sued and be sent to jail . OHH plus the fact of the chemicals in refining we lead a shortened life . On behalf of all trades people your comments are an insult .So get on the picket line remember the sun screen . Hope you stay there till hell freezes over !!!!Don’t call a policeman ,fireman etc . OHH but they are sworn to look after you .insanity

          • You had my interest, until I read your comment until you defined yourself in the comment respecting “hell freezing over”.

            PS. Not to dilute the integrity of both policemen and firemen, but did you know that both police officers and firemen have an income which on average is higher than teachers?

    • Most nurses and social workers need as much education as teachers. The difference is that nurses and social workers are both paid by the hour. Paying teachers by the hour would be difficult because you couldn’t limit a teacher to 35 or 40 hours a week and expect that they would have time to get everything done. And you’re going to pay a teacher time and a half for marking?

    • Oh my, where do you get your information. Teachers do not exactly have a high degree of education just because they went to university. And by they way, if you can’t get into medical school or dentistry or law school or engineering you can always become a teacher even if it isn’t what you really aspire to do.
      Oh, and by the way, where did your English teacher go to school.

    • I agree Garp, BC is becoming a joke of a province. If I were young I would get out while I could before its too late. Its the most expensive place to live in Canada and the debt adds up quickly.