While the Premier says her negotiators are calling the BCTF weekly to restart contract talks, the news came as a surprise to the union’s president.
Jim Iker says his phone is not ringing.
“Well I am hoping that it is not he said he said or he said she said. I was curious to hear that they have been phoning us weekly because we haven’t recieved any phone call. We want a deal before school starts. I am hoping that we can get one. I think what we need to do is go into mediation.”
As for mediation Iker says he even has a date in mind.
“Well were hoping that we could have gone into mediation with Justice Kelleher the week of July 7th when he was available. We know he has the week of August 4th available so we are hoping that government will agree to go into mediation with us. I think we will get an agreement once we enter into mediation so that is our hope.”
The ministry of education says it is also ready to negotiate with or without a mediator if the union commits to an affordable deal.
“Well we think we are in the affordability range in class size. What we have on the table is a work load fund of $225 million to address the conditions of class size and class composition specialist ratios for the interim while we wait for the next decision of the Appeal court.”
The two sides have not met since the end of June.
A parent’s activist group is urging the BC Government to accept the BC Teachers Federation’s offer of entering mediation next month in an effort to reach a negotiated settlement.
Marlene Rodgers with Protect Public Education says the last thing anyone wants is picket lines up in September.
“It’s really important the kids get back to school in September, and the teachers, if they can sit down together, that would be exactly what we want to see, and that’s exactly what the petition is asking Premier Clark to do.”
A petition signed by 1400 people was delivered to the Premier’s office encouraging her to end the stand-off with the teachers union so school can resume in the fall.