B.C. education minister rejects binding arbitration

VANCOUVER –B.C.’s education minister is rejecting binding arbitration, but he wants the teachers’ union to use a vote aimed at ending the strike to instead ask members to agree to suspending the job action while negotiations proceed.

Peter Fassbender responded to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s decision to call a provincewide vote on Wednesday by accusing its leadership of creating a ploy to deflect its responsibility for presenting an affordable contract.

Fassbender says he feels like he’s in the film Groundhog Day, where the same day repeats over and over, as he told reporters that binding arbitration is not in the cards because he fears it would end up costing taxpayers money.

The minister also rejected the union’s demand the employer scrap a clause related to class size and composition, while repeating the government is determined to get a deal at the bargaining table rather than through legislation.

The union says it will ask teachers to vote on its preferred settlement method and if the government agrees then schools will re-open.

More than 40,000 teachers walked off the job last June, forcing more than half-a-million students out of the classroom.