Teachers mulling plan ‘B’
VANCOUVER—Educators huddled last night, trying to come up with a plan ‘B’ after a veteran mediator declined their invitation to help resolve British Columbia’s teachers’ strike.
B.C. Teachers Federation spokesman Rich Overgaard said Vince Ready didn’t have time in his busy schedule to mediate the dispute that has closed classrooms to more than half-a-million students across the province.
The strike began last week and though there’s still no end in sight, classes are due to wind down this week in most schools.
The province’s labour board also has ruled the teachers still must grade high school exams that are critical for students entering post-secondary schools.
What will happen to summer classes, however, remains unclear.
The dispute suffered a setback Friday when the independent facilitator who spent more than a year trying to broker a deal resigned.
Mark Brown quit after the B.C. Teachers Federation demanded mediation.
Pay, class size, and support staff are the main problem areas in the negotiations.
Peter Cameron, the government’s chief negotiator, has said mediation will be pointless unless the teachers lower their wage demands.
He contends the teachers are seeking wage and benefit improvements that would amount to a 14.5 percent hike over five years—demands he dismisses as being outside the “affordability zone.”