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Today, in an effort to find a fair settlement for all parties involved, open schools, and get children and teachers back into classrooms, the BCTF has called for binding arbitration. If the BC Public School Employers’ Association agrees to binding arbitration, the BCTF would quickly put the vote to teachers to end the strike.

BCTF President Jim Iker made the announcement as teachers across the province gathered together for study sessions.

His speaking notes (check against delivery at http://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Sept0514) are below.

Good morning,

First, I want to speak directly to the 40,000 teachers watching around the province in today’s study sessions.

Thank you.

Your determination, solidarity, and support move me every day. You have given up so much for your students and the future of BC’s education system. All British Columbians owe you their gratitude.

Earlier this week, I outlined a simple, pragmatic, and practical way forward to ensure all parties involved reach a fair settlement so we can get schools open.

I also said we would consider all options and close no doors.

So today, I would like to open another one.

Throughout this dispute, BC teachers have led the way in trying to reach a fair deal that gives our students more support. We have made moves, proposed creative ideas, and taken job action only when absolutely necessary.

In return, the government has put up road blocks.

Their focus has been on delay tactics, a $40-a-day payout scheme, and attack ads on Twitter.

I hope that all comes to an end today.

This week, the BCTF Executive Committee met with our provincial Bargaining Team and we are proposing another way forward to get students and teachers back in the classroom.

Today, we are not closing any doors, just opening a new one. Mediation with Vince Ready in our view is still a viable option. However, BCPSEA and government made it clear last weekend that they were not ready or willing to get the job done.

They did not respond in any meaningful way to any of the significant moves teachers made.

Today, we are putting forward another option for all of us—government and teachers to resolve this dispute and reach a fair settlement.

Today, the BCTF is calling on BCPSEA and the BC Liberal government to agree to binding arbitration.

If the BC Public School Employers’ Association agrees, the BCTF will quickly put the question to our membership for a province-wide vote to end the strike.

It is the fastest and most fair option that will see schools open and kids back in classrooms.

Teachers want to be in the classrooms teaching. I think parents and students will agree—and I hope government does as well.

For this option to work, the BCTF is proposing to send matters of compensation, benefits, and preparation time to binding arbitration.

We will also ask government to leave the matters currently before the court, and related to the court ruling, to the courts.

BC teachers remain 100% committed to improving the learning conditions of our students.

And, we will continue to stand up for our Charter rights.

But we don’t think arbitration is an appropriate avenue for matters before the courts.

As you know, their attempt to bargain their way out of their two court losses has been the biggest obstacle to a settlement.

They must drop E80 and negotiate a new fund that will provide meaningful improvements to students’ learning conditions in the interim.

The government’s current Learning Improvement Fund does not meet the needs of our students. It’s just the same money they keep re-announcing. The status quo isn’t good enough.

Everyone knows our schools are underfunded. We must take action now.

Two days ago Premier Clark called class composition her number one priority. Parents and teachers will hold her to that.

It’s time to see more investment throughout the public education system to improve the learning conditions of all students—those with special needs, those learning English, those who just need some more one-on-one time—all children.

Every single one of our students deserves more than this government is currently giving them.
 

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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