BCTF president Jim Iker, on the left, and B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender, on the right. CBC
During his speech Sunday, Iker called the province's $40-a-day offer a "bribe," and said it has been "incredibly unhelpful."The B.C. government has confirmed that Education Minister Peter Fassbender and chief government negotiator Peter Cameron will meet in Victoria with teachers' union president Jim Iker on Wednesday.
The meeting comes after a summer of limited discussions and media blackouts, and could give renewed hope to parents expecting the ongoing teachers' strike to delay the start of the new school year.
The province's 40,000 public school teachers began the strike two weeks before the end of the last school year, calling for higher wages and more control over class sizes and composition.
The B.C. Teachers' Federation president got a standing ovation at the union's summer leadership conference on Sunday, when he said teachers are ready to enter into mediation, if only the province would agree to make it happen.
"My message to the minister today and his rhetoric of 24/7 bargaining is let's see it. How about tomorrow? Let's get this deal done," Iker said on Sunday.
"The holdout has been government and their unwillingness to enter full-scale mediation and compromise...We're ready to negotiate anytime. We've been ready all summer."
Professional mediator Vince Ready agreed earlier this month to work with the groups, but also said he can't start working until teachers and government are closer to agreeing to terms.
In the meantime, the BCTF has said a rotating picket schedule will be in effect again at schools across the province this week, with picket lines going up in Vancouver, Langley and Kamloops on Monday.
Classes at B.C. public schools were scheduled to resume Sept. 2 for the start of the 2014-15 school year. The government has promised to pay parents $40 per school-aged child for every school day that is missed due to the strike.
During his speech Sunday, Iker called the province's $40-a-day offer a "bribe" and said it has been "incredibly unhelpful."
The government has promised it will not legislate teachers back to work and has warned parents to be prepared for children to be out of school until the contract dispute is settled.
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