Truth battle: Christy Clark and Teachers war over what's actually on bargaining table

"Unlimited massages," signing bonuses, and an extra day off are all teacher demands too exepensive for the public purse, says Premier Clark

BC Premier Christy Clark teacher strike Vancouver Fassbender Mychaylo Prystupa
Premier Christy Clark giving her first major media briefing on the teacher strike, since classes were supposed to resume this fall. Education Minister Peter Fassbender is to her right. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

In two separate media briefings today, Premier Christry Clark, then later the head of the teachers' union, told radically different accounts of what's actually on the bargaining table, to return B.C.'s 500,000 students back to school, and end the teacher's strike.

Premier Christy Clark first argued that the teacher union's demands were too excessive, and out of line with the deals that other public sector employees have settled.

"They didn’t get a $5,000 signing bonus, they didn’t get unlimited massage, they didn’t get an extra day off every year."

"It needs to be realistic, it needs to be in line with what we’ve done with other public sector unions," said Clark, midday Wednesday.

"For heaven’s sake, 150,000 other public sector employees work just as hard for far less."

Education Minister Peter Fassbender was at her side, but said nothing the entire twenty minutes of the briefing.

Hours later, the BC Teachers Federation held its own media briefing in response to the Premier's statements.

"I think Ms. Clark was mistaken."

"The proposal was to give teachers two extra days of additional preparation time.”

"We’re looking for a modest improvement in the massage from $500 to $700."

“There was a proposal...for $3,000 for massage for some members who are in chronic pain.... We had to take that off the table,” said Iker.

Jim Iker - BCTF teacher union president - strike - press conference

The union boss added, that BC teacher demands for funding, above what is currently provided for in the budget, are not excessive versus other provinces.

"We're second worst in funding across the country.  That’s shameful.”

Earlier, the Premier said returning to the table, requires teachers to stop the strike.

"It’s only teachers that can end this strike.  The teachers’ union needs to suspend this strike while continuing to negotiate,” said the Premier.

But Iker said, teachers are ready to bargain.

"I want to meet with Ms. Clark."

“The signing bonus is negotiable - that's for us to deal with at the table.  And we will talk about it.  But we also need a government also willing to talk about what is fair," said union president Jim Iker.

"[But] instead of finding creative ways to solve this dispute, and keep schools open - this government is actually trying to prolong the shut down with their $40 a day payment scheme."  

"That amounts to $12 million a day, and $60 million a week in taxpayers' money, that should be put into our education system," said Iker.

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