Media Statement: September 7th 2014
Government Leadership Lacking in Teacher’s Dispute
For Immediate Release
Victoria B.C. – Yesterday’s announcement by Minister of Education Peter Fassbender rejecting BCTF’s proposal to seek binding arbitration in their ongoing labour dispute demonstrates a clear lack of leadership, an inability to compromise and their fundamental lack of support for public education.
Teachers, students and parents face a second week shut out of classes with absolutely no end in sight. By suggesting binding arbitration, a position Andrew Weaver recommended at the end of August, the BCTF opened the door to finding a deal.
“The government campaigned on reaching a 10-year deal with teachers; they campaigned on putting families first; they campaigned on hyperbolic promises of wealth and prosperity from LNG. But they’ve failed on all three fronts” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay Gordon Head. “It’s become clear to me that the government’s campaign promises were nothing more than empty rhetoric. British Columbians deserve better”.
The government’s position that resolution will only be achieved through negotiation belies the fact that over two months have passed with few, if any, substantive talks between parties. Even mediator Vince Ready has pointed out that both sides are too far apart on substantive issues for mediation to proceed.
In response to the Minister’s statement that the BCTF proposal “was another empty effort to give parents and teachers a false hope that there is a simple way to resolve the dispute” Weaver notes that “binding arbitration is a time-tested means of ending labour disputes.” To this Weaver adds “the fact that the government dismissed it suggests that they are not interested in reaching a fair settlement”.
If the government were serious about ending the strike then rather than rejecting binding arbitration out-of-hand they could have agreed to it provided there were no preconditions. Together the government and the BCTF could then have appealed to the Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court to appoint an arbitrator.
In yesterday’s statement Minister Fassbender claimed that “the BCTF leadership is trying to avoid having the tough conversation with their members about what is realistic and achievable at the bargaining table.” Weaver counters that “in fact it is the government that is trying to avoid having the tough conversation with British Columbians about what it takes to make education of those who will be the drivers of tomorrow’s economy a priority”.
“It is time to end this strike. It’s time to stop playing politics with our children, teachers, and parents” said Andrew Weaver “and it’s not only educators, support staff and families who have lost confidence in this government, there is tangible public anger out there. It’s time for Minister Fassbender and Premier Clark to do what is right, to do what is clearly in the public interest, and to agree to what is really the only fair solution to ending this strike: binding arbitration.”’
Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3385