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Mediation ruled out for BC teacher dispute

The BC Teachers' Federation announced today that mediation to end the ongoing teacher contract dispute is out of the question, at least for now.

The decision means the B.C. school strike will likely continue until September, though BCTF President Jim Iker said his union will keep the lines of communication open in July to restart bargaining.

The statement came after B.C. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher participated in exploratory talks over the weekend with both parties. In the end, Kelleher concluded the union and the provincial government are too far apart on wages and working conditions for mediation to be effective.

Both the B.C. Public School Employers' Association and the BCTF had agreed that Justice Kelleher would be an acceptable mediator and said they appreciated the Supreme Court making him available.

Peter Fassbender, the province's education minister, confirmed the two sides still remain far apart. He believes the union has continued to ask for much more than other unions have settled for in the past.

"There is no process and no mediator that can bridge this gap at this time," he concluded.

Emi Sasagawa is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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