In a press conference this morning, BCTF president Jim Iker announced that the union’s membership of 40,000 teachers will host a vote to end the ongoing strike if the provincial government agrees to binding arbitration.
The vote to have a third party determine wage and benefit increases as well as class size and composition will be held on Wednesday, September 10. However, the government must agree to binding arbitration and withdraw its E80 proposal.
Iker says that should the union membership vote “yes” for binding arbitration. He believes it is the “easiest” way to end the lengthy strike, which is now into the second week of the school year. The results of the vote will be released on Wednesday night.
The union wants $225 million in funding for new teachers and specialists, but the government has stated that its current allocated budget of $75 million is adequate.
Over the weekend, the government denied the BCTF’s requests to settle the labour dispute in binding arbitration. It has also pressured the union to put the issue of the strike over a vote.
Binding arbitration is an avenue that the provincial government wants to avoid given its previous experiences with it. In 2002, the provincial government increased the provincial sales tax to fund a $400 million increase in doctor fees awarded in binding arbitration.
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