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Strike will end if province agrees to binding arbitration, drops E80, says BCTF

The president of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation Jim Iker said the union will vote on ending its strike if the government agrees to binding arbitration and drops a demand that would undo the BCTF's court wins.

"It's about us trying to find a solution and making sure the solution will work to get everyone back," said Iker, noting the parties have already tried negotiating and mediation. Mediator Vince Ready last week said the union and the government were too far apart to reach a mediated settlement.

Iker had previously said the union wasn't closing any doors and that binding arbitration is an option under the labour code. Education Minister Peter Fassbender has recently said the government is unwilling to go that route.

A pre-condition for binding arbitration would be the government dropping E80, Iker said. The government's bargaining position E80 deals with class size and composition and Iker said it would negate the B.C. Supreme Court's ruling that the province acted unconstitutionally when it stripped related provisions from an earlier contract with the BCTF. The government is appealing the ruling.

"We don't think arbitration is an appropriate avenue for matters before the court," said Iker. "We want a deal and so far we haven't seen any flexibility or compromise from this government, so we're putting forward another option to end this dispute."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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