VICTORIA – Minister of Education Peter Fassbender issued the following statement today:
“Yesterday I had a productive and respectful meeting with BCTF president Jim Iker and BCPSEA lead negotiator Peter Cameron where I proposed three steps to help reach a settlement and clear the way for schools to start on schedule.
“I asked the parties to set aside the matter of potential grievances stemming from Justice Griffin’s decision. These matters will be addressed through the ongoing court process and moving them off the bargaining table helps to put the focus on the key issues of teacher wages and class size and composition.
“I urged them to get into mediation as soon as possible, and I asked the BCTF and BCPSEA to voluntarily suspend all strike or lockout activities for two weeks the moment Mr. Ready starts mediation.
“Mr. Iker told me that he could not commit to suspending his pickets during mediation because it would require him to first canvass all of his members.
“Today, I am asking Mr. Iker and the BCTF leadership to canvass teachers in advance of September 2nd on the idea of suspending their pickets if Vince Ready is engaged in mediation.
“There are only a few days ahead for Mr. Iker to seek a mandate from teachers on this idea. I think parents, students and communities would like to know whether the BCTF is willing to let schools open and allow teachers to work while mediator Vince Ready helps the parties to negotiate an agreement.
“I am encouraged that the lead negotiators for BCPSEA and the BCTF are meeting with Vince Ready this afternoon to discuss these recent developments. It is up to Mr. Ready to decide when to start full mediation but if it starts and progress is being made, it would be nice for all involved to know whether schools will open on schedule.”