Few are surprised a fact finder found it “very unlikely” that teachers and their employer would reach a voluntary end to their contract dispute.
“It makes official what we were hearing,” school board chair Denise Harper said Thursday.
Trevor Hughes, the assistant deputy minister of industrial relations, delivered his report Thursday morning. He was asked to look into progress in the teachers’ job action that has run since the school year began.
Hughes found that despite almost one year of negotiations and more than 75 face-to-face sessions, the two sides have not been able to narrow the gap between their positions.
“Neither party views the other party as anywhere close to what is commonly referred to as the ’settlement zone,”’ Hughes wrote.
Hughes said both the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation view each other as unwilling to budge.
The employers’ association complains that the union won’t identify its priorities, making it difficult to find areas where progress can be made, said Hughes.
In turn, Hughes said the teachers regard their employers as unwilling to move.
Hughes said the province’s mandate requiring public sector unions to negotiate contracts that do not have any cost increases is a “fundamental obstacle in this set of bargaining.”
Teachers asked for a 15-per-cent pay hike over three years.
Harper said the net-zero and concerns about class size are the biggest stumbling block to successful talks.
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association president Jason Karpuk said the union will continue to push for an independent mediator.
Teachers asked the province’s Labour Relations Board to appoint an independent mediator. Local teachers’ union president Jason Karpuk said this is the only way a successful contract can be negotiated.