The government in the province of British Columbia will be rushed to come to a solution with the union that represents the 41,000 teachers currently working. A dispute in the labor contract has left BC on the verge of a work stoppage. In voting this week the teachers voted 89% in favor of a strike action in response to the recent contract offer.
Items still in negotiation include a proposed wage increase to account for higher cost of living and a small salary increase to make the wages more competitive with neighboring provinces. Other points that teachers asked for include a demand for more specialty educators and to lower the class sizes. The union's claim that teachers wages are some of Canada's lowest is documented by fact. The starting wage for teachers in British Columbia was just under $42,000. That number is about $10,000 less than in Alberta. The teachers are being represented by union president Jim Iker and British Columbia's negotiations and Education Minister Peter Fassbender is the primary report to party for the government negotiations team.
An actual work stoppage is not a guaranteed next step. The negotiators representing both sides plan to continue talking and sharing proposals for at least another week. Spokesmen for both sides claim to still have high hopes to strike a deal.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and BC Premier Christy Clark have so far stayed out of the process and need to gather information when a final proposal is in place before they would intervene.