BCTF demands too rich: premier
Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender face the media Wednesday. (ADA SLIVINSKI/24 HOURS)
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s demands are too rich for the province to afford, Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday — especially the union’s desire for a $5,000 signing bonus.
The impasse must be resolved at the bargaining table, said Clark, backing the ongoing work of Education Minister Peter Fassbender and imploring union leaders to get into “the affordability zone” in line with deals reached by other B.C. public-sector workers.
“They are still demanding twice as much as other public-sector workers have received,” she said. “It’s just not right to demand a $5,000 signing bonus that no one else in the public sector has received.”
Once those discussions move forward, the issue of class composition can then be addressed, she said.
In the interim, teachers should suspend their strike to get students back into the classroom, Clark said.
She would not speculate on how long she would allow the strike to continue.
In response, BCTF president Jim Iker said the union is ready to bargain, but that the government must show “some flexibility and be willing to compromise.”
“We have to find a way to get the deal done, but it can’t just be BCTF trying to find that way,” Iker said during a press conference Wednesday.
He said the government hasn’t shown a willingness to negotiate over the last 11 months and that some compromise is necessary to fix the system. He said their proposal represents $3 per student over five years, comparing it to the government’s current childcare allowance of $40 per day.
He said suspending the strike is not a likely option at this time and called for full-scale mediation, reiterating a request to have Clark participate in negotiations.
Iker would not specify how long teachers will remain on strike if a settlement cannot be reached.
“Our members know what this is about, what’s at stake,” he said. “This is about the learning needs of our students.”