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BC teachers begin strike vote

Teachers across B.C. have begun taking a strike vote in hopes the move will pressure the government to offer what the B.C. Teachers' Federation calls a fair contract.

Results of the three-day vote will be released Thursday night, after which the teachers' union has 90 days to initiate some kind of job action.

The vote comes as union and government bargaining agents continue talks, though BCTF president Jim Iker says the two sides are far from an agreement after more than 40 negotiating sessions.

Iker says the government is refusing to restore class size and composition into the agreement despite a B.C. Supreme Court decision saying legislation to strip those provisions in 2002 was unconstitutional.

But Peter Cameron, the government's chief negotiator, says the teachers' union is mischaracterizing the ruling, which says class size and composition should be discussed at the bargaining table.

He says the government has put forward a proposal suggesting teachers and principals decide on class size and composition according to students' needs rather than having a one-size-fits-all formula.

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