Why won’t the B.C. Liberal government accept binding arbitration in the education dispute?
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has offered to hand the decision on wages and benefits over to an arbitrator.
The government continues, although incorrectly, to claim that the teachers’ proposals are “out of line” with other settlements.
The government would be allowed to make their case for lowering these cost items.
The BCTF has also offered to negotiate an interim amount to support class size and composition, an area that the premier has said is the number one priority in education.
This call for arbitration seems very reasonable, yet, the government is stalling, likely, if we are to believe pundits, to refuse the offer.
The real motive behind saying no may have nothing to do with wages, benefits, or even putting a little bit more money into class composition.
It likely has everything to do with the government’s proposal, labelled E.80, which would nullify the two court rulings that teachers have won, finding among other things that the government broke the law, bargained in bad faith, and sought to provoke teachers into strike action in 2011.
If the BCTF were to accept this proposal, the government would not only avoid the ramifications and potential damages from the upcoming appeal, or appeals, class size and composition funding would remain unchanged.
While the government has announced they’ll invest $375 million dollars over the course of the agreement, this is not new money but rather currently budgeted money.
Finally, why would anyone sign away two court victories for nothing?
What is standing in the way of schools opening in a matter of days is the government’s refusal to let the courts decide, something both the premier and the minister of education claim they want to happen.
It’s far past the time that the government demonstrate that they truly care about education, let the court decide the outcome of the issues before it, and enter arbitration on the remaining matters.