Teachers making final push for an agreement

The return to school next week is looking dicey, but the B.C. Teachers' Federation is making its final push in the hope classes can still start on time.

"We're trying to put what pressure we can on government,'' said Naomi Nilsson, president of the Cowichan District Teachers' Association. "This is our final push here.''

Locally, Nilsson said picketing has been taking place at the School District 79 board office throughout the summer.

"Every single one of our members has been actively picketing this summer,'' she added.

Picketing accelerated again this week at each of the schools in the district.

In fact, "all schools began (Monday) from across the province,'' Nilsson said.

Some media reports about rotating strikes being instituted were incorrect, she said.

Nilsson attended the BCTF executive meetings and conference in Kamloops Wednesday through Sunday before returning home to check on the progress of full-fledged picketing.

Nilsson indicated the teachers are ready to incorporate mediator Vince Ready into the proceedings. Binding arbitration would require both sides to agree before the process begins.

In mediation, the process is a negotiation with the assistance of a neutral third party and the parties do not reach a resolution unless all sides agree.

In arbitration, the arbitrator hears evidence and makes a decision. Arbitration is like the court process as parties still provide testimony and give evidence similar to a trial but it is usually less formal.

The third possibility of a legislated settlement is something the provincial government has said it is not interested in doing at this time. If nothing concrete materializes this week, indication are the dispute could drag on into

late September and even into October.

"It's everyone's worst fear,'' said Nilsson.

"It's absolutely government at this point. We're hoping this week with all our plans we can get government to the table.''


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