Alberni District Teachers Union (ADTU) president Ken Zydyk secured the support of SD70 trustees Tuesday night in sending a letter to Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Education Peter Fassbender over the continuing strike.
Speaking to the board and more than 50 teachers, parents and students gathered at the meeting, Zydyk said that he was concerned about the state of bargaining between the BCTF and the provincial government after 18 months despite mediator Vince Ready’s involvement.
Zydyk also raised concerns over the government’s E-80 proposal that could overrule the BCTF’s court wins where it was ruled that Bills 28 and 22, which removed the teachers’ ability to negotiate class size and composition, were unconsitutional.
“Government wants us to throw our [constitutional] rights away that were won over a 12-year battle,” Zydyk said, adding that “that’s the major stumblng block to a mediated settlement” and why the BCTF feels the need to go to binding arbitration as their only option to get students back into classrooms.
“If we could do that, our students would be returning to our school tomorrow but instead the government rejected that.”
Teachers will vote on whether or not they will return to schools while binding arbitration happens, though Zydyk cautioned that this was dependent on the government agreeing to binding arbitration in the first place.
Referencing letters sent by school districts in Nanaimo and Mission, Zydyk called for the letter to specifically include an appeal for the government to agree to binding arbitration by a third party.
Trustee John Bennie expressed concerns about supporting the ADTU’s request for binding arbitration, saying that while he wants there to be a solution, he’s “not agreeing to commit to binding arbitration” until the board had time to discuss the matter further.
However, trustee Rosemarie Buchanan did put forward a motion to include an appeal for binding arbitration that was passed by the board of trustees.
Board Chair Larry Ransom said that the letter would be sent out within the next couple of days.
Zydyk said that he was happy with the board’s decision and that he believes that SD70 teachers will vote to return to school if the province does agree to binding arbitration.