Teacher strike 'imminent'

The head of the BC Teachers' Federation says a full-scale strike scheduled for Tuesday is imminent because the government squandered an opportunity to negotiate a contract during this past weekend's bargaining sessions.

According to CTV Vancouver, Jim Iker says the union lowered its wage demand to eight per cent over five years, down from 9.75 per cent over four years, along with a $5,000 signing bonus.

His comments come as the provinces education minister said the weekend’s session was “productive.”

Peter Fassbender told CTV Morning Live that both sides are “much closer together” after an intense session of talks this weekend between the BC Teachers' Federation and BC Public School Employers Association.

The government is still awaiting a response from the teachers' federation on a package offered late Sunday.

Fassbender refused to comment on details in the offer, but said “anything is possible” when asked if a full-scale strike could be avoided.

Negotiations ended just before midnight Sunday, with no resolution.

Meanwhile, Iker says the government responded by dropping their wage offer, down to seven per cent from 7.25 per cent over six years.

The government had offered teachers a $1,200 signing bonus if a contract is reached by the end of June.

Iker says the federation executive will meet this afternoon and decide on their next move.

Teachers across the province are out of the classroom Monday for a province-wide study session, but there will not be any pickets up in front of schools.

A full-scale strike will begin Tuesday unless a deal is reached.

In March, teachers voted overwhelmingly in favour of limited job action.

The government responded with a partial lockout and docking the teachers’ pay by 10 per cent.

Fassbender says the government's proposal is as good as it's going to get.

-- With files from the Canadian Press and CTV Vancouver

Here is the BCTF press conference from Monday morning:




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