B.C. teachers to talk contract after 89 per cent vote for job action
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, March 7, 2014 6:09AM EST
Last Updated Friday, March 7, 2014 2:30PM EST
VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s education minister says the government is waiting for the teachers' union to table contract demands -- especially wages -- now that members have voted 89 per cent in favour of a strike.
Peter Fassbender said Friday that government negotiators have been essentially negotiating with themselves because their offer is the only one on the table.
B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker said union negotiators continued bargaining Friday and are prepared to be at talks scheduled for next week.
Following the release of the strike vote tally late Thursday, Iker said no immediate job action was planned. He said earlier this week that part of the union's negotiating strategy involves rotating strikes to provoke a settlement.
Fassbender said he wants talks to reach the stage where each side has the others' proposals.
"Until we get an offer and their full proposal from the BCTF, it's very difficult to move anywhere -- until you know where the other goal post is," he said. "It's kind of like looking down a football field without knowing where the goal post is at the other end."
The initial government wage offer added up to 6.5 per cent over six years, followed by indexed increases.
Fassbender said the government remains committed to reaching a lengthy settlement with the teachers.
Premier Christy Clark has said she considers a 10-year contract a long-term deal but the union immediately shot down that possibility.
The province's 41,000 teachers have been without a contract since June 2013, and outstanding issues include wages, class sizes and class composition.