Updated: Fassbender rejects BCTF arbitration call

Education Minister calls union proposal 'empty effort' giving false hope for end to B.C. teachers strike

BCTF president Jim Iker responds to the government and Premier Christy Clark

BCTF president Jim Iker responds to the government and Premier Christy Clark



Education Minister Peter Fassbender has rejected the B.C. Teachers Federation’s call Friday for binding arbitration to end the teachers strike.

He said the BCTF never gave the province a detailed written proposal and the union’s insistence on several preconditions would have tilted arbitration in its favour.

“It became very clear that it was another empty effort to give parents and teachers a false hope that there is a simple way to resolve the dispute,” Fassbender said Saturday.

BCTF president Jim Iker urged the province to agree to arbitration and leave class size and composition to be settled by the courts, promising the union would then hold a membership vote on suspending the strike and returning to work.

Fassbender said binding arbitration hands over control to a third party and risks an outcome that compromises B.C.’s balanced budget and unacceptably damages the province’s finances.

The last use of binding arbitration by the province in 2001 led to a surprise $400-million increase in fees for B.C. doctors that prompted the government to raise the provincial sales tax by 0.5 per cent.

Fassbender remained firm that the province wants a negotiated settlement in line with the pay raises accepted by other government unions.

“The BCTF leadership is trying to avoid having the tough conversation with their members about what is realistic and achievable at the bargaining table.”

Iker reiterated the offer Sunday, calling it a “fair, workable, and pragmatic plan to end the strike, open schools, and get children back into classrooms.”

He said his only precondition is that the province drop its proposed E80clause, which allows either side to dodge the effect of a future appeal court ruling against them on class size and special needs resources.

“Their attempt to bargain their way out of their two court losses has been the biggest obstacle to a settlement,” Iker said.

Prior to the BCTF offer, government negotiator Peter Cameron said arbitration was undesirable, not just because of the financial risk to government, but because it takes the decision out of the hands of both the government and the BCTF.

“The parties end up not really having made the hard decisions and owning the outcome,” he said. “And it involves a third party, who would likely be a labour relations person rather than an educator, making educational decisions.”

VIDEO: Watch Jim Iker address above, mobile users click here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read