Education Minister Peter Fassbender released the following statement in response to comments made today by the president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF):
“It is unfortunate that the BCTF leadership decided to strike summer school. Their decision today will impact thousands of students and it will do little to bring the parties closer to agreement.
“While the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) has an application before the Labour Relations Board to deem some aspects of summer school an essential service, this would only partially mitigate the impacts from the BCTF’s strike.
“Apart from this unfortunate development, we heard nothing new from the BCTF leadership.
“The BCTF continues to demand wages and benefits that are more than double what other public sector workers have received. On top of that, they are striking for hundreds of millions more each year in other contract demands.
“We have been very clear - and very consistent - in our view that mediation will only succeed if the BCTF recognizes that the best possible deal for their members is one that falls squarely within the same affordability zone as all the other public sector agreements that have been reached to date.
“On June 15, 2014, BCPSEA tabled comprehensive package to end the stalemate, get kids back in school, and create long-term stability for parents, student and teachers. It included the special $1,200 signing bonus for a deal by June 30, 2014, an improved wage offer, $375 million in guaranteed funding for class composition, and bridging provisions to address the court case.
“BCPSEA made it very clear that the comprehensive offer was very near the limit of what we can afford. Mediation can certainly help us to adjust that package. We are willing to explore puts and takes, small moves here and there.
“But mediation will not split the difference between our respective positions. A mediator will not shake loose hundreds of millions of dollars that we simply do not have.
“Our government has a fundamental commitment to balance the budget and we have an obligation to deal fairly with all 300,000 B.C. public sector workers. We are happy to work with a mediator to help the BCTF to achieve the best possible deal for teachers - but that agreement must be fair for other workers and affordable for taxpayers and that means a sincere effort by the BCTF to get into the affordability zone.”
Ministry of Education
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education