B.C. teachers should get a raise, says B.C. education minister

B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender told the province's parent advisory councils on Friday that teachers do deserve a raise, ahead of a second week of rotating strikes.

Peter Fassbender was speaking to parent advisory councils ahead of a second week of teachers strikes

Education Minister Peter Fassbender speaks to parent councils 3:05

B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender told the province's parent advisory councils on Friday that teachers do deserve a raise, as B.C.'s 41,000 teachers head into a second week of rotating-strikes.

The teachers and the provincial government are divided over wages, class size and composition. Teachers are asking for a 15.9 per cent increase over four years. Government is offering 7.25 per cent over six years plus a signing bonus.

The minister, who was addressing a meeting of the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils in Richmond, said teachers' wage demands have to be balanced against other demands on the taxpayer dollar.

"I stand before you believing that teachers deserve a raise, teachers deserve stability," he said, to applause from the assembled parents.

"But you know what? Communities deserve that as well, and the government has a responsibility to taxpayers and finding that balance between all of those things."

Fassbender also told reporters the government has already made concessions in its contract negotiations with the B.C. Teachers' Federation and it was not anxious to introduce legislation to end the long-running dispute.

"Quite honestly I hope we can get an agreement by the end of June. If we don't, then we need to stay at the table and bargain throughout the summer," he said in a scrum with reporters afterwards.

But Fassbender put the onus on the BCTF to change their demands and enable an agreement, as talks continue into next week.

"We need to break the cycle of action, legislation and court cases. We need a new system, we need to bargain, get a settlement," he said.

"Then we need to sit down and talk about the future of labour relations between ourselves. But I can assure you that we are not anxious to legislate the teachers back."

PACs demand for funding

Terry Berting, president of the confederation, says his members' patience with the escalation of the dispute is wearing thin and "the bear is stirring."

Terry Berting, president of the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, says his patience is wearing thin. (CBC)

"I appreciate the efforts, I appreciate that [Fassbender] is trying his best to get to the bargaining table," he said. "But we're not pleased about the strike action."

"We respect that it's a legal right to strike, but we're not dealing with car parts here, this is serious and kids are being affected by the strike."

Berting also suggested his members would appreciate more funding from the Ministry of Education, saying most of their funding currently comes from gaming grants which provide $20 per student and local fundraising.

"We notice from parents at district level, there is stress in the system and obviously some more money would help."

Meanwhile the rotating strike is scheduled to continue next week, with another round of one-day strikes in each of the province's 60 school districts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The government has also issued a partial lockout notice, restricting the amount of time teachers can spend at schools during non-teaching hours.

Week 2 teachers' strike schedule

Monday, June 2

  • #20 - Kootenay-Columbia
  • #23 - Central Okanagan
  • #27 - Cariboo-Chilcotin
  • #35 -Langley
  • #37 - Delta
  • #38 - Richmond
  • #42 - Maple Ridge
  • #52 - Prince Rupert
  • #59 - Peace River South
  • #63 - Saanich
  • #68 - Nanaimo
  • #70 - Alberni
  • #83 - North Okanagan-Shuswap

Tuesday, June 3

  • #10 - Arrow Lakes
  • #19 - Revelstoke
  • #22 - Vernon
  • #33 - Chilliwack
  • #36 - Surrey
  • #41 - Burnaby
  • #44 - North Vancouver
  • #45 - West Vancouver
  • #46 - Sunshine Coast
  • #57 - Prince George
  • #58 - Nicola Similkameen
  • #64 - Gulf Islands
  • #71 - Comox
  • #79 - Cowichan Valley
  • #81 - Fort Nelson

Wednesday, June 4

  • No rotating strikes

Thursday, June 5

  • #8 - Kootenay Lake
  • #34 - Abbotsford
  • #43 - Coquitlam
  • #47 - Powell River
  • #50 - Haida Gwaii
  • #51 - Boundary
  • #53 - Okanagan Similkameen
  • #54 - Bulkley Valley
  • #60 - Peace River North
  • #61 - Greater Victoria
  • #69 - Qualicum
  • #73 - Kamloops Thompson
  • #84 - Vancouver Island West
  • #91 - Nechako Lakes
  • #92 - Nisga’a

Friday, June 6

  • #5 - Southeast Kootenay
  • #6 - Rocky Mountain
  • #28 - Quesnel
  • #39 - Vancouver
  • #40 - New Westminster
  • #48 - Sea to Sky
  • #49 - Central Coast
  • #62 - Sooke
  • #67 - Okanagan Skaha
  • #72 - Campbell River
  • #74 - Gold Trail
  • #75 - Mission
  • #78 - Fraser-Cascade
  • #82 - Coast Mountains
  • #85 - Vancouver Island North
  • #87 - Stikine

School District #93, Conseil Scolaire Francophone, schools will be closed with others in their local communities throughout the week.



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