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Teachers say they are frustrated with B.C. government

B.C. teachers have given a strong strike mandate because they are frustrated with the lack of bargaining progress, said Mount Arrowsmith Teacher's Association President Debbie Morran.

Eighty nine per cent of the 29,301 teachers who voted March 4-6 voted yes. BCTF president Jim Iker said in a news release that the result "sent a very clear message to the B.C. government; it's time to negotiate in good faith, take back the unreasonable proposals, and offer teachers a fair deal that also provides better support for students."

Morran reiterated Iker’s statement that there is no immediate plan to take job action, that the vote is active for 90 days and is meant to keep the government negotiating in good faith.

“I’m not surprised there was a mandate given to the BCTF,” Minister of Education Peter Fassbender told NEWS1130 Thursday night after the results were announced.

“I appreciate… what the teachers are saying to both parties, that they hope this will add some additional impetus to have us continue our negotiations, which we have been doing. I take this as a clear message from teachers that they want us to negotiate.”

Morran said that Fassbender’s comments that the teachers haven’t tabled their comprehensive proposal is just “nitpicking and spinning the message.”

She said they have presented a proposal in November that was “very descriptive in terms of salaries and expectations,” and that it is premature to propose exact dollar figures.

While negotiations continue, both sides have indicated there is little progress.

“We are not going to go backwards,” said Morran, adding, “I have said before teachers are running out of patience.”

Iker said “We will work very hard to get that negotiated settlement without any job action.” He called the vote, “a normal process in labour relations (which) helps apply pressure to both parties during negotiations.”

“Teachers voted so overwhelmingly in favour because the government has tabled unfair and unreasonable proposals that would undo the class size, class composition and specialist teacher staffing levels we just won back in a B.C. Supreme Court Ruling,” Iker said.

Fassbender said he wouldn’t comment on the ongoing court ruling which they have appealed.

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