MLA questions need for mediator

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo wants to see an end to the teachers’ strike but he isn’t convinced there is a role for a mediator.

The B.C. Teachers Federation has requested that a third-party mediator get involved to break the impasse with the provincial government, but that concept has been turned down by Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

“It appears both parties are miles apart and a mediator is of benefit when the two parties are particularly close,” said Kyllo.

Kyllo says there is a need for both parties to negotiate but any negotiated settlement must fit within the government’s financial constraints and be in the range of deals hammered out with other unions.

Heather Malcolm, Vernon Teachers Association president, believes the BCTF’s request to Fassbender for a mediator makes sense.

“I’m disappointed that he thinks we’re far apart,”  she said.

“I am hopeful they will go for a mediator so we can have an agreement by the end of June. It (mediator) is a way to get to the table and to get it done.”

Malcolm says spirits remain high among teachers as they prepare for another week on the picket line.

“Teachers want to be in the classroom but we’re standing up for what’s important,” she said, adding that the key issues are class size and composition.

Kyllo has been hearing from residents since the full-scale strike began.

“I’m getting mixed messages,” he said.

“Some parents are concerned about the impact of strike action and other constituents believe the government is being reasonable and to hold the line to what taxpayers can afford.”


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