Despite continued negotiations last weekend in Vancouver, the B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) and the B.C. Public School Employers' Association (BCPSEA) were unable to come to terms on a new contract.
At the beginning of the week there was frustration on both sides, but by Tuesday, June 17, both sides said they would get back to bargaining.
"I think the two sides are getting closer with respect to salary, but there still are significant gaps in some of the other proposals," said Carl Walker, president of the Sea to Sky Teachers' Association.
One of the big gaps still separating the two sides relates to class size and composition, Walker said.
The BCTF has proposed the creation of an unspecified "Workload Fund" to help manage class size and staffing ratios. The fund's sole use would be for hiring new teachers.
The BCPSEA's offer includes class sizes currently contained in legislation and a $75 million "Learning Improvement Fund" to address class size and composition.
In terms of wages, the BCTF is proposing a five-year term with wages increasing eight per cent over that time, as well as a $5,000 signing bonus.
The BCPSEA is proposing a six-year term with an increase of seven per cent and a $1,200 signing bonus.
A full side-by-side comparison of the proposals can be found on the BCPSEA's website at www.bcpsea.bc.ca.
While teachers across the province took to the picket lines on Tuesday, Monday offered teachers in the Sea to Sky District a chance to show their resolve before the full-scale strike began.
A rally held at the Adventure Centre in Squamish had a turnout of about 150, Walker said.
"I think the morale is still really strong, and teachers are still firm in their resolve to reach a settlement," he said. "I still remain hopeful that we can reach a deal by June 30."
In a statement released Tuesday, education minister Peter Fassbender showed similar optimism.
"I believe that both parties want this dispute resolved," he said. "If the BCTF wants to get a deal done they need to get back to bargaining and put all their cards on the table. While they've moved on their wage demands, they have not provided clear answers on what other cost items are still on the table.
"We want to see an agreement by June 30 so everyone can head into the summer with this dispute behind us and the knowledge the system is on a path to long-term stability."
Provincial exams for Grades 10-12 and final marks for Grade 12s will go ahead as planned, as the Labour Relations Board ruled last week that those are essential services.
Grade 7 leaving ceremonies for both Myrtle Philip elementary and Spring Creek elementary have been moved to the Westin Resort and Spa.
With a full-scale teacher strike come concerns over childcare for the remainder of the school year, but there are some options available for Whistler parents.
The RMOW is offering non-instructional programming through its Kids on the Go day program at Myrtle Philip until a deal is reached or until the end of the original school year. Call 604-935-7529 to register.
The Whistler Racquet Club (932-1991), Whistler Youth Soccer Club (902-0400), DFX Kids Mountain Bike Camps (1-800-766-0449), The Core climbing centre (www.whistlercore.com), and Whistler Gymnastics (604-902-3547) are all offering day camps throughout the strike.
Call ahead to register. For updates see www.piquenewsmagazine.com.
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