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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.”’

Media Contact

Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3385


  1. Emma gledhill-
    September 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I support binding atbitration.It is the only fair thing to do.When there are squabbles in the sandbox which can’t be resolved mom or dad settles it. Go for it.

  2. Diane Clarkson-
    September 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Ian Robertson: “I doubt citizens would allow the government to refuse to abide with the court ruling.” Starting when? The public has not been clamouring for the government to abide by the previous 2 rulings. If not for the furor raised through the delay in school starting, most people wouldn’t have paid any attention to the government’s union-breaking tactics (ignoring contracts and then Supreme Court rulings). We even re-elected them in the interim! If the teachers back away from their legal position re composition & class size, there will be no impetus and no pressure on the Liberals to obey contracts & the law in future.
    This isn’t the first time in their tenure that they have ignored signed contracts. If we do not stand with the teachers now, with a whole generation at risk, who will support us when we are targeted by these villains?

  3. Holly-
    September 7, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Ian– what you are describing was E81, which has been taken off the table. Clause E80 states: http://twitter.com/Halessharon/status/508706461737033728/photo/1 which would mean that the @bctf would potentially signing away any future judgment.

  4. Ian Robertson-
    September 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    As I understand E80, EITHER side who is unhappy with the Appeal court ruling can give notice to terminate whatever might be agreed to at this time. The decision of the Appeal Court would bind the parties until such time as they agree on something else. So if BCTF agreed to E80, the have the option to terminate. The dispute would be exposed to allow a new strike or an agreement. I doubt citizens would allow the government to refuse to abide with the court ruling.

  5. Karen Grigor-
    September 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I appreciate this statement and the work Mr. Weaver is doing to bring education and balance to the public regarding the strike, but I take issue with one aspect. The BCTF could not go into binding arbitration without at least one precondition: the removal of E80. Everything hinges on this. Allowing E80 to go through would be a nail in the coffin of BC public education. Why would we ever risk that?

    • September 7, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Hello Karen, Personally, I was not worried about E80. I also don’t believe binding arbitration can have preconditions. In my view it would be very difficult for an arbitrator appointed by the Chief Justice of BC Supreme Court to accept E80 (essentially nullifying all previous class size and composition negotiations and the rulings of the supreme court) in a decision in light of the fact that the Appeal will be heard shortly. An arbitrator would in my view, readily be able to deal with salary and benefits issues and the class size and composition discussions could be tabled to after the appeal court ruling.

    • Chris Robson-
      September 8, 2014 at 8:53 am

      That this government intends to privatize education is transparent. The government has twice been found guilty of unconstitutional dealings in bad faith with the BCTF which effectively forced the teachers into a strike.

      Premier Clark has had a 12-year assault on Public Education since she was appointed Education Minister under then-Premier Gordon Campbell.

      During that time, taxpayers’ subsidies to Private and Religious Schools have skyrocketed. The Government has also given Cabinet Ministers raises of over 100% in the last decade, and just recently approved an 18% pay raise for Government Aides. They also found over $500-Million for a flawed new roof for BC Place Stadium, and obediently cut a cheque to California for $750-Million. But there’s no money for education?

      The Liberals’ tactics include: ignoring the BC Supreme Court, avoiding negotiations, spending our tax dollars on misleading advertisements (which are political, NOT informational), stalling, BRIBING the public to help pressure and starve the teachers and deplete their strike fund, absolving themselves of responsibility, avoiding arbitration, blaming the Union, blaming a “dysfunctional relationship”, and dangling the “voucher” model as a viable option, and then going into hiding – shutting down MLA offices and avoiding accountability.

      This is the pattern of a rogue Government’s slide into autocracy. Clark and Fassbender are completely insensitive to the realities of education. They are indifferent to the difficulties faced by teachers, their families, and all families with kids in Public Education. They are only concerned with winning – at any cost.

      The long-term effects of complete privatization will be insidious, as a generation of kids grows up in private schools that are racially, religiously, and economically homogenized. “Divide and Conquer” is the political strategy of the Liberals, to diffuse public dissent, and to pave the way for a Province that consists solely of Resource-Extraction Towns and Rich-Only Cities.

      Question: regardless of whatever outcome to negotiations/arbitrations/legislation, is there no way to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling? Is there no way to make Clark and Fassbender criminally liable and personally responsible for the $2-Million damages awarded to the BCTF by the Supreme Court?