B.C. teachers negotiations heading for stalemate
Chief negotiator says B.C. can't meet teachers' demands without risking province's credit rating
The chief negotiator for the B.C. government says bargaining with the B.C. Teacher's Federation is reaching a stalemate, and that could mean further job action by B.C.'s 41,000 teachers.
In an update on Friday morning, Peter Cameron said both parties have made some minor movement at the negotiating table, but significant gaps remain.
For example, Cameron says, the BCTF has knocked 0.25 per cent off their demand for a cost of living allowance increase this year. Meanwhile, the government has added 0.75 per cent to their initial wage proposal.
But that's where the good news stops and the gap between the two sides comes into play.
Cameron says the BCTF is still asking for just over 13 per cent in increases in a three-year deal, while the government is offering 7.25 per cent over the first six years of a 10-year deal.
There's also still major differences when it comes to benefits, preparation time provisions and class size and composition.
Cameron says, by the end of three years, the total additional cost of the BCTF's demands would be $576 million.
That's money he insists the government doesn't have, which is why he's warning of a looming bargaining stalemate.
"We can't get into their ballpark without risking the credit rating of the province. I mean this is a lot of money," he said.
For its part, the BCTF says it will not accept a long-term agreement like the 10-year deal the government is seeking, and it wants more movement on issues around class size and composition.
Earlier this week the teachers began limited job action mostly affecting administrative work, but about nine school districts decided to cancel recess as a result.
The BCTF leadership has promised to ramp up the job action if progress is not made at the negotiating table.
With files from Steven Smart