Teachers, territory at bargaining deadlock

Collective bargaining with Yukon's teachers has come to a halt. The Yukon government wants an impasse to be declared this week, after it balked at the wage hike being demanded by teachers.

Collective bargaining with Yukon’s teachers has come to a halt.

The Yukon government wants an impasse to be declared this week, after it balked at the wage hike being demanded by teachers.

The government wants to skip mediation and head straight to either binding arbitration or conciliation.

Mediation would be pointless because the gap between the wages being proposed by both parties is too great, said Patricia Daws, the public service commissioner, in a release.

Teachers are asking for annual wage increases of 4.5 per cent. The last collective agreement, which expired in June, gave teachers annual wage increases greater than three per cent over three years.

But it’s not about the money, insists Katherine Mackwood, president of the Yukon Teachers Association. There’s a raft of non-monetary issues that could be dealt with through mediation, she said.

“We want better learning and work conditions for our students and educators, along, of course, with a fair and equitable monetary package,” she said.

“But we shouldn’t have to negotiate better learning and work conditions for our students. It’s the government’s responsibility.”

Teachers want provisions to ensure safety in schools and that classrooms with struggling students have adequate support, she said.

It’s up to the chair of the Yukon Teacher Staff Relations Board to decide whether to try mediation or not. If he agrees to move straight to arbitration or conciliation, teachers will need to choose which route they prefer. That decision will be put to a vote, said Mackwood.

In both cases, a neutral party will try to determine what’s a fair deal. In arbitration, that deal is binding. In conciliation, both parties must later agree to the proposed deal.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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