VANCOUVER – Representatives for B.C.’s public school teachers and their employers bargained through the weekend in another effort to resolve the strike that has postponed the start of the school year for more than half a million students.
The two sides met with veteran mediator Vince Ready on Saturday and again Sunday at a Vancouver-area hotel, but at the end of the marathon session there was no comment on whether any progress was made.
As the parties left the table early Monday morning they maintained a media blackout on their talks, saying only that they planned to resume negotiations later in the day.
The teachers went on strike two weeks before the summer break, with wages, class size and support staff levels at the centre of the stalemate.
The union voted on Wednesday to end the strike if the government would agree to enter binding arbitration, however, the offer was flatly rejected by Education Minister Peter Fassbender.
On Thursday, Premier Christy Clark said she was determined to get a deal before she leaves on a trade mission to India on Oct. 9, three days after the legislature resumes.
Over the past week, unions across the country have donated or loaned millions of dollars to a hardship fund for B.C.’s teachers, who haven`t been paid in months.
Last January a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the provincial government violated teachers’ rights in 2002 when it declared they could no longer negotiate the size of classes or the number of support staff in classrooms.
The province is appealing that decision.