A three hour meeting aimed at taking teachers’ picket lines down by Tuesday ended today with a promise of more ‘exploratory’ discussions tomorrow.
“They’re going to meet with their respective committees.”
Mediator Vince Ready wouldn’t disclose any details about what was said when he talked to union leader Jim Iker and the government’s lead negotiator Peter Cameron in a small conference room at a hotel near the airport.
He says he needs more information to decide if enough progress has been made to start mediation… and hopefully get a deal done when most schools are slated to re-open Tuesday.
“It was a very candid exchange about the differences in their positions and they still are a long ways apart.”
Ready says the three men are slated to meet again some time in the afternoon at the same hotel.
When today’s meeting wrapped up, shortly after 5pm, Jim Iker didn’t talk to reporters, but Peter Cameron says there’s still hope picket lines could come down before Tuesday.
“Yes, of course, it is possible. Obviously, there’s some challenges involved logistically, but it’s possible. I’m not pessimistic. I’d say that much.”
Friday’s meeting will include the full BCTF and BCPSEA bargaining teams, but Iker has already indicated he has no plans to talk to media after it wraps up.
He’s asking Ready and Cameron to do the same.
Meanwhile, people heading into a meeting held by the Vancouver teachers’ unions earlier in the day said they aren’t pleased with the minister’s idea of two weeks to cool off.
“Cooling off? He’s been cooled off all summer. He’s not been willing to negotiate with us.”
“I think it’s a ploy by the government to relieve pressure on them. I think it’s a clear indication that what we have been doing has been contributing pressure to the government.”
As for whether they think school could start on time next week?
“I have no idea.”
“I would love to say I’m hopeful for that. Yesterday, Fassbender’s comments really kind of stuck in my craw.”
They say the “cooling off” proposal is a sign the province is feeling the pressure.
Tomorrow’s meeting will include the full BCTF and BCPSEA bargaining teams.
A BCTF spokesperson has sent out a statement saying Jim Iker will NOT be available for comment tomorrow.
The union is asking Education Minister Peter Fassbender and Cameron to follow suite.