Teachers preparing new proposal 

Howe Sound teachers are hoping a new proposal by their union will break the stalemate in negotiations with their employer.

"I am hopeful," said Marjorie Reimer, president of the Howe Sound Teachers Association.

"I can tell you that our executive has prepared a dramatic new proposal to present to (B.C. Public School Employers’ Association)."

Reimer could not discuss the details as the proposal is confidential until endorsed by senior levels of the B.C. Teachers Federation this weekend.

The proposal is expected to be presented early next week to Stephen Kelleher, who has been working as a facilitator in a bid to end the impasse which developed shortly after negotiations began last March.

"I can say it will revise our teacher position on every key issue in the dispute," said Reimer.

The main issues in dispute deal with salary, class size, guarantees of more specialty teachers based on student numbers, and more support for teachers working with special needs or in non-enrolling positions.

Rumors persist in the Howe Sound district that students may join in a province-wide day of protest next Wednesday.

"There are Howe Sound students who are actively preparing to go out on Jan. 23." said Reimer adding that teachers do not endorse the move.

Ken Denike of the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association said administrators are considering disciplinary action against those students who take part in protests.

"There is the safety and security issue here," said Denike.

If students were injured during the protest or property damaged someone has to be held accountable.

Denike said the association is looking forward to seeing the BCTF’s new proposals but questioned why it is taking a week for it to be delivered.

"There is a sense of urgency here," he said.

"We have kids who are missing out. If the (BCTF) has a proposal let’s get at it."

The BCTF is to appear before the Labor Relations Board on Monday to ask it to consider an escalation of the job action to include walkouts by teachers.

Meanwhile the provincial government is still considering legislating the teachers back to work.

This is removing the incentive for the employer to bargain said Reimer, and making it difficult for meaningful negotiations to continue.

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