B.C. teachers, employers reach tentative deal

A tentative deal has been reached in the British Columbia teachers’ strike, a mediator confirmed Tuesday.

RICHMOND, B.C. — A tentative deal has been reached in the British Columbia teachers’ strike, a mediator confirmed Tuesday.

The breakthrough in negotiations came on the fifth day of talks at a Richmond, B.C., hotel between the union and the employers’ association with the help of Vince Ready.

Ready, known for his ability to solve even the toughest labour disputes, said both sides worked hard to reach the tentative deal, but he revealed few details.

“After all these hours, I am very pleased to announce that the parties have reached a tentative agreement,” he told reporters outside the Delta Hotel.

“I’m not at liberty to release any of the details, nor are the parties. The parties are going to meet later this morning and finalize a few of the outstanding details, but generally speaking, there has been a tentative agreement initialized by the parties and that’s really all I got to say at this point.”

Education Ministry spokesman Scott Sutherland said in an interview that the tentative settlement was reached around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation thanked its members through social media for their “commitment, courage and strength” during their months-long strike.

The union’s Nancy Knickerbocker said in a tweet that teachers will read over details and vote on the agreement on Thursday. She said workers will also need to clean and prep schools that have been closed since mid-June.

Negotiations resumed last week under increasing pressure from the public and suggestions by the government that legislating an end to the dispute was an option.

Last Wednesday, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation voted overwhelmingly to end their dispute if the government agreed to binding arbitration — something the government firmly rejected.

Teachers launched full-scale job action two weeks before the summer break and students have missed more than two weeks of their new school year.

The federation and B.C. governments — no matter what political affiliation — have a decades-long history of animosity and difficult labour disputes.

More than 40,000 teachers in the province have been without a contract since June 2013 and class size and composition have been major stumbling blocks in the dispute.

Last January, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the provincial government violated teachers’ rights in 2002 when it declared they could no longer negotiate the size of classes or the number of support staff in classrooms. The province is appealing that decision.

But in an attempt to get movement at the bargaining table, the union began escalating stages of labour action in April.

About two weeks before the end of the last school year, teachers launched a full-scale walkout.

The teachers’ union and the government’s bargaining team barely spoke during the summer, and at the end of July, Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced the B.C. government would pay parents $40 a day for every child 12 and under if the teachers’ strike continued into the start of the school year.

Veteran mediator Vince Ready agreed to make himself available in mid-August, but he walked away from the bargaining table Aug. 30, saying the two sides were just too far apart.

Schools remained closed Sept. 2 for half a million B.C. students.

The next day, Premier Christy Clark weighed into the dispute, saying no one wanted to see schools closed because of the ongoing teachers’ strike, but the government had to stand firm or the labour dispute would never end.

Union president Jim Iker called on Sept. 5 for binding arbitration, saying it was the only solution available to get the dispute settled.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender panned the idea hours later. He said the province had a bad experience with the process once before, referring to a costly dispute with B.C. doctors more than a decade ago.

Later that evening, teachers rallied in downtown Vancouver, reiterating Iker’s call for binding arbitration.

Fassbender explained Sept. 6 why he rejected the proposal. He said government negotiator Peter Cameron had advised against it, and added the offer was not serious and would not guarantee an end to the strike.

The teachers’ union made the next move on Sept. 8, announcing its members would vote on binding arbitration.

One day before that vote, de Jong announced an expected $266 million financial surplus for the provincial government’s first financial quarter but he declined to use the funds to settle the teachers’ dispute.

Unions from across Canada announced last Wednesday, the day of the teachers’ vote, they had pledged millions of dollars of donations and loans for a hardship fund for B.C.’s teachers.

The teachers’ union announced that night results of the vote. Of the 30,699 teachers who cast ballots, 99.4 per cent voted to end the strike through binding arbitration.

Fassbender softened his stand last Thursday towards legislating teachers back to work and said legislation was another option available to government. Premier Christy Clark also said she was determined to get a deal before she leaves on a trade mission to India on Oct. 9, three days after the legislature resumes.

On Friday, the union confirmed its and the government’s bargaining teams had begun negotiations and both sides spent the weekend in marathon discussions inside a hotel in Richmond, B.C.

Just Posted

SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Red Deer’s new ‘equity co-ordinator’ will promote tolerance

Andrea Lacoursiere was hired by city with Alberta Human Rights funding

More bridge work this summer in Red Deer’s Coronation Park

The park’s north bridge is being rebuilt to ensure safety

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

Heat warning in effect for Central Alberta

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Central Alberta. Residents in… Continue reading

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Statelessness a hurdle for some rescued Thai boy

MAE SAI, Thailand — The 12 boys and coach of the Wild… Continue reading

Lobbying commissioner rejects complaints against firearms panel member

OTTAWA — A federal watchdog has dismissed complaints that a mass-shooting survivor… Continue reading

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association says the number of homes… Continue reading

Red Deer Royals place second at Calgary Stampede parade

Royals depicted life in forest and portrayed destruction by human beings

Muslim candidates running in record numbers face backlash

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A liberal woman of colour with zero name recognition… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month