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Teachers' stalemate

The BC government and the province's unionized teachers are facing a stalemate in their contract talks, one day after limited job action began.

Peter Cameron, chief negotiator for the BC Public School Employers' Association, said Thursday the BC Teachers' Federation isn't able to make any serious moves on the outstanding issues at the bargaining table.

"We're hoping they take a really hard look at the outstanding issues and come back next week prepared to make some real moves," he said.

Cameron said that if the stalemate continues, the province will have to respond to the teachers' action with pressure of its own, but he didn't elaborate on what that could mean.

Union president Jim Iker responded that the government and employer refuse to budge on a proposed 10-year contract, wages and putting class size and composition back into the collective agreement.

"The government needs to show some good faith and move significantly on those items," he said in a statement.

The teachers have been without a contract since last June. On Wednesday, the province's 41,000 public-school teachers began Stage 1 job action.

Teachers stopped supervising students outside the classroom or communicating in writing with administrators, which prompted about a dozen school districts to cancel recess.

Cameron is scheduled to provide a technical briefing on the contract talks in Victoria on Friday.

Meantime, the Canadian Union of Public Employees raised concerns that members, working as education assistants, could lose hours because of cancelled or rescheduled recesses.

"Education Assistants should not bear the brunt of school board decisions, nor should children be denied breaks," said Mark Hancock, CUPE's BC president, in a statement.

CUPE announced its locals will ensure that collective agreements are not violated, will file grievances when required and will support teachers in the dispute.

The Canadian Press

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