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Teachers stalemate continues

6:54 a.m. update Thursday: A stalemate in British Columbia's teachers' dispute remains even though union members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending their months-long strike through binding arbitration.

Roughly 30,700 teachers casted ballots on Wednesday, and 99.4 per cent of them endorsed the process that would see teachers and government accept contract details drawn out by a third party.

But the vote appears to accomplish little, as Education Minister Peter Fassbender quickly responded by saying the results were expected, and government remains opposed to the idea.

Fassbender says binding arbitration would force the province to raise taxes, and a negotiated settlement is the only way forward.

Teachers' union leader Jim Iker says binding arbitration is the most fair way to end the bitter labour dispute, and he accuses the government of being the only thing standing in the way of getting children back in the classroom.

Earlier Wednesday, 10 unions offered millions of dollars in financial support to striking teachers, who have been without pay since June.


8 p.m. Wednesday original story:

British Columbia's striking teachers are turning up the pressure in their ongoing labour dispute by overwhelmingly endorsing a third-party resolution process that's been repeatedly rejected by the provincial government.

Teachers' union president Jim Iker says 99.4 per cent of the 30,699 teachers who cast ballots Wednesday voted in favour of ending the strike through binding arbitration.

He says the provincial government's refusal to accept the process is the only reason children won't be back in class on Thursday morning.

The government has said binding arbitration could be expensive for taxpayers because a settlement awarded to B.C. doctors more than a decade ago prompted a tax hike.

Earlier in the day, nine unions banded together to announce $8 million in interest-free loans for financially struggling members of the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

Dozens of picketing teachers also protested in Maple Ridge, where their loud chanting penetrated Premier Christy Clark's remarks at a municipal event.

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