Pickets up at schools in Langley and B.C., with no end in sight

Langley teachers continue to walk the picket lines, picking up from where they left off when the school year ended in June.

And parents are left trying to figure out child care with schools not in session.

No new talks are scheduled and over the Labour Day weekend mediator Vince Ready said the two sides remain far apart.

B.C. teachers are asking for a 13.7 per cent pay hike over four years, plus a cost of living increase. In terms teacher pay in the rest of the country, B.C. sits mid-pack but this province has a higher cost of living.

They are also asking for class size and composition changes, citing court decisions that sided with them and not the provincial government.

The government wants a contract that omits the court rulings.

Before the school year ended, the provincial government offered a $1,200 signing bonus.

Instead, teachers opted escalating job action.

The average teacher has lost approximately $5,000-6,000 in salary due to the strike, which has so far cancelled 14 days of school.

Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender held a press conference Wednesday, the first time Clark has commented since the labour dispute began.

Clark said teachers can end the strike which they chose to start. She urged the BCTF to suspend the strike and return to the bargaining table so students can go to school.

Clark contends that teachers want an unrealistic $5,000 signing bonus and insists teacher contracts must be in line with other public sector deals.

The government is not waiting out teachers, said Fassbender.

“It’s not fair,” he said of that characterization. “This strike was initiated by the BCTF, they have continued to want to continue the strike; that’s their choice.”

– With files from the Vancouver Sun

For more Vancouver Sun stories, click here.

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