Education Minister ice cold to teachers' offer of binding arbitration to end strike
"I struggle with binding arbitration - period" - Minister Peter Fassbender
Education Minister Peter Fassbender responded cooly to an offer from the teachers' union Friday to end the strike with binding arbitration. The minister said that fiscal discipline was paramount.
"I struggle with binding arbitration - period."
"It takes the responsibly of the parties away to make the hard decisions, and do the hard bargaining - we need to do that," said Fassbender from the Victoria legislature, in a media briefing that took few questions from reporters.
He added, that the Premier will not raise taxes "in order to give a settlement to one union that does not reflect what the other unions have done."
Earlier, the BC Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker called on the province to end the strike, by going ahead with binding arbitration.
"It is the fastest and most fair option that will see schools open and kids back in classrooms," said Iker.
The union added, it would put the question of arbitration in a province-wide vote in hurry, if the government accepted.
But so far, the Minister of Education has said he has not seen enough details of the union's proposal to do arbitration.
Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender on Wednesday - Mychaylo Prystupa
The impasse has put 500,000 students out of school in June, and now again this week, leaving many parents scrambling to find daycare and alternative schooling options.
Fassbender maintains there's still a significant difference in what the two sides are demanding, to get to a deal.
"The gap between what the BCTF is asking for in wages and benefits, and what the other [unions] have settled on so far," said the minister.
A sticking point remains the issue of the so-called "E80” clause – an attempt by government to sidestep court rulings about teachers’ ability to negotiate working conditions, such as class composition, and specialists in the class.
Iker said he wanted government to leave matters currently before the court to the courts.
Fassbender repeated a line, often said by himself and the Premier:
"The schools are closed because the BCTF chose to go on strike."