Prospect of summer school looms over B.C. teacher strike

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The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association now wants the board to compel teachers back to the classroom for summer remedial programs, for students who have failed classes and for those in year-round schools.

Collective bargaining is not planned for today, although the two sides say they will engage in “exploratory talks” in order to discuss a “way forward” that includes mediation.

B.C. Labor Federation President, Jim Sinclair is among those who believe that’s the only way to resolve the dispute.

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“You can’t just stand up in a press and yell at the other side to get closer. At the end of the day, both sides have to sit down and negotiate,” Sinclair said. “So I would hope, that the government today will announce with the BCTF that there is a mediator, and the government agreed to go to mediation. That’s what I think parents want, certainly what I think teachers want…It’s going to drag on if it doesn’t (find a mediator).”   

The governments’ bargaining arm has said for weeks it will end its lockout so teachers can hold summer school, but the teacher’s union has so far refused to say what edict it will give members, aside from respecting the specifics of any labor board ruling.

B.C. Teacher’s Federation President, Jim Iker says he still believes a new collective agreement can be reached at the bargaining table, but also says his union is prepared to continue strike action into the summer vacation break if a deal isn’t reached by Monday.

“This was not a decision that we made lightly, but we can not allow government to continually under fund B.C. education system,” Iker said. “It’s time to stop short changing our students, compared to students across this country.”

The LRB hearing has not yet been set for the matter, while teachers meantime have today swapped their “on strike” signs to read “locked out”, after the government implemented its planned province wide shut down of schools for the next three days. 

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