Teachers picket Clark luncheon

Teachers picketed outside a chamber luncheon attended by Premier Christy Clark at the Penticton Lakeside Resort on Wednesday.

Leslea Woodward, president of the Okanagan Skaha Teachers Union, who was in attendance, said they thought this would be the perfect time to let the public know they are still fighting for public education and better support for teachers.

"We want the message to get to Christy Clark that we need unfettered mediation to start taking place now," she said.

Woodward said BC Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher has a few dates available in August to do mediation with both parties, but the problem they are having is getting government to agree to it.

The rally included teachers from the south Okanagan, as well as Central Okanagan, carrying signs with sayings including: "Christy mediate a fair deal, put our kids and teachers back in school."

At a press conference following the luncheon, Clark said they have spent substantial time the last couple of days as a cabinet talking about this and that both sides have a lot in common.

"We all want teachers to get a raise, and we all want to address these issues with class composition, so kids can learn better and we all want labour peace," she said. "That's a pretty good starting point, so I'm hopeful that we can get there. It might be little steps, but I really would love to see this wrapped up by the end of August."

In terms of mediation, she said, "We've always said we're open to mediation, absolutely. We've had a couple of mediators come and go, but the issue with mediation is both sides need to be close enough. The teachers union has to get into the settlement zone. We need a deal that's fair for teachers, and we want an agreement that's fair for the 150,000 public sector workers, over half of them, who have already settled their agreements as well."

The first day of school is supposed to be Sept. 2.



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