National News

All sides in teachers' strike meet in Victoria

By The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Parents and students in B.C. should have a better idea by the end of the day about the chance of public schools resuming, as scheduled, next Tuesday.

For the first time in weeks, senior negotiators for the B.C. Teachers' Federation and the government will meet in Victoria with Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

The meeting comes as the teacher's union ramps up pressure for mediated talks by scheduling rallies and protests, approving a series of radio ads and calling on its roughly 40,000 members to return to picket lines around the province.

A media blackout between the two sides was imposed when veteran mediator Vince Ready was brought into the process, but, since then, BCTF president Jim Iker and Fassbender have both made limited statements on the state of negotiations.

Iker has challenged Fassbender to begin mediation, but the ministry says that will only happen if Ready believes talks would be productive, and Fassbender has repeatedly suggested the sides are too far apart for third party assistance.

Wages, benefits, class size and class composition are among the major issues in the full-scale strike that began in mid-June, following several weeks of rotating walkouts.

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