B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker called on the government to enter mediation as soon as Monday morning at a gathering of more than 500 teachers in Kamloops on Sunday.
“We’re ready to negotiate anytime. We have been ready all summer. We have been ready all this whole week. ... How about tomorrow?” Iker said at the BCTF summer leadership conference.
The teachers’ held a special representative assembly Friday night, where voting members discussed the job action. The results of the discussion and any direction given to Iker is not public at this time, but the speech on Sunday was open to the media.
Last week, education minister Peter Fassbender said the government is ready to negotiate “24-7” with the teachers, who went on strike June 17, closing schools during the final two weeks of the last school year. Fassbender said the government is not prepared to legislate a settlement in the dispute.
With schools set to reopen Sept. 2, the two sides are hundreds of millions of dollars apart on class size and composition, although they are close on wages.
Veteran mediator Vince Ready said earlier this month that he will monitor the situation and could mediate the dispute in the future if both sides reach a point where mediation would be productive.