School Board calls for arbitration panel

BCTF makes nearly unanimous vote for binding arbitration; B.C. government still aiming for negotiated solution.

More than 30,000 B.C. teachers voted almost unanimously Wednesday to end their strike if the B.C. government will send their dispute to binding arbitration.

The government, however, had already dismissed the province-wide vote, with Education Minister Peter Fassbender calling it a “ploy.”

In School District 5, board chair Frank Lento said he was not surprised by the results of the vote by teachers.

On Tuesday, the Board of Education approved sending a letter to Fassbender and the BCTF urging an arbitration panel.

“Each side would chose a representative and then each representative would chose a chairman,” explained Lento on Thursday. “Then it would be a panel for binding arbitration.

“The difference would be each party would select an arbitrator and then each arbitrator would select a chairperson. It’s something that’s happened in the past, years ago there would be arbitration panels to resolve disputes. So we sent that along for their consideration urging them to get the matter resolved.”

On August 5, Lento wrote the letter to Fassbender regarding the ongoing labour dispute.

“We wish to add our voices to the growing number of Boards across the province that are urging government to reach a fair, negotiated settlement prior to school start-up in September,” he wrote.

The letter went on to say that if an agreement can’t be reached, the board urges government to seek mediation or if necessary, binding arbitration.

“Our Board doesn’t see any long term benefits to a legislated resolution and anticipates considerable damage if agreement is not reached prior to school start-up in September.”

Lento ends the letter by saying: “Once again we remind government that education is not a cost to be managed but an investment to be made — in our children, our economy and our future.”

Fassbender had a statement waiting when the result was announced Wednesday evening by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

“As we have consistently made clear, binding arbitration would lead to unacceptable tax increases in this case,” Fassbender said. “That’s because the two sides remain too far apart on wages and benefits.”

BCTF president Jim Iker said the government is obstructing solutions to the dispute.

“This government has said no to arbitration, has tried to stall and block mediation, and has not moved on any monetary proposals in negotiations since June,” Iker said.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the union is seeking $315 million per year more than the government is offering, including wages, benefits and a fund to reduce class size and increase special needs support.

Now in the fourth week of full-scale strike action that began last spring, the BCTF received $8 million Wednesday from the B.C. Federation of Labour to use as a hardship fund for teachers who have lost more than four weeks’ pay. The B.C. Nurses’ Union put in another $500,000.

 

Just Posted

The Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group is active again after a few years off and are working to find a home for Gloria in Kimberley. Photo taken at a KRRG fundraiser several years ago. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group active once more

KRRG working to find a refugee a safe place to live in Kimberley

The Kimberley Aquatic Centre is set to reopen its doors to the public on July 6, after being shut down due to the pandemic in March, 2020. The Centre will be initially operating with reduced occupancy and limited program offerings. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Aquatic Centre set to re-open July 6

New safety infrastructure, limited guests and programming allow facility to open again

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read