B.C. teachers' strike: Premier's tweets blaming teachers add fuel to fire
'Unfortunately, the BCTF rejected our offer to reopen schools,' Christy Clark tweets, angering teachers
Not only are the two sides in the B.C. teachers' strike too far apart to even begin mediation, on Sunday - in what is arguably a new low for relations between the government and the B.C. Teachers' Federation - Premier Christy Clark further inflamed the already heated negotiations with a series of tweets.
"Unfortunately, the BCTF rejected our offer to reopen schools while the two sides enter mediation to reach an agreement," she tweeted. "Instead, the BCTF is sticking to its strike and demanding twice as much money as everyone else in the public service has received.
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"That's not fair for the 150,000 dedicated women and men who have reached long-term agreements with affordable raises. Class composition is priority #1 — more educators helping more students. BCTF or CUPE, it doesn't matter because students' needs come first."
Clark repeated that message on her Facebook page.
But part of her statement is misleading.
It wasn't the teacher's decision to enter mediation. Education Minister Peter Fassbender has already pointed out that the decision was left entirely to mediator Vince Ready and the talks were exploratory.
Ready was gauging whether the two sides were close enough to proceed, and it turns out they weren't.
'Stop trying to score political points'
Clark has been getting a strong reaction to her comments on social media
"Christy Clark, your government has acted in bad faith," wrote Ryan Andrew Murphy on Clark's Facebook page. "Stop trying to score political points at the expense of teachers and children. Put class size and composition back in the CA (collective agreement). Restore the funding you illegally cut 12 years ago."
On Twitter, Jessica the Desolate wrote, "What is this vitriol?"
BCTF president Jim Iker said in a statement released Saturday that the union, in talks with Ready, scaled back its demands by $125 million.
However, the B.C. Public School Employers' Association claimed BCTF's proposals for more preparation time at the elementary school level would cost more than $86 million.
The union has also been seeking $225 million to address class size and composition after the B.C. Supreme Court concluded in two separate rulings, that the right to include those issues in collective bargaining has been illegally stripped from earlier contracts. The government is appealing that decision.
In a statement released Saturday after the collapse of talks, Iker claimed government demands at the bargaining table "would undo any future court decision."
"Does the government really expect that teachers would bargain away everything the B.C. Supreme Court has already awarded us and what future decisions might bring?" he wrote.
In a subsequent statement, Iker also asked for a face-to-face meeting with Clark.