QUITE obviously waking up to the reality that her popularity rating is dropping and British Columbians are getting increasingly frustrated and angry as the teachers’ dispute drags on, Premier Christy Clark and her Education Minister, Peter Fassbender, suddenly started hinting at the possibility of a legislated end to the strike.
This week, the latest Angus Reid Global survey showed that Clark’s approval rating had dropped five points to 32 per cent since June. Then the B.C. Federation of Labour announced an $8-million loan to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and 99.4 per cent of teachers voted yes for binding arbitration. Clark and Fassbender realized they were getting nowhere.
Fassbender hinted that the government might resort to a legislated end to the dispute as he told the media: “The reality is, government has the ultimate ability to legislate in any situation,” although he claimed that the striking teachers’ union and employers’ association are talking with mediator Vince Ready about starting negotiations.
On Thursday afternoon, Clark said: “My position on that hasn’t changed, I want to get a negotiated agreement, I intend to get one.”
But she added: “Well I’m very hopeful schools will be back, in fact I’m certain schools will be back in session by the time I go to India [on October 9].”
CBC reported on Thursday that Fassbender told them that the teachers’ union and the employers’ association were talking with mediator Vince Ready about resuming negotiations.
There were expectations that the negotiations would begin on Friday.