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While teachers are headed back to their classrooms this morning for the first full week of the new school year, they do so without a new contract in place.

President of the Nicola Valley Teachers’ Union Peter Vogt spoke with Q101 about the ongoing negotiations.

“The actual mediation process didn’t start until the last eight working days of August. So, there were eight really intensive mediation days, but they couldn’t come to a resolution,” said Vogt. “They will be back at the mediation sessions on September 23.”

The main sticking points in the negotiation for the teachers’ union are class size and composition, the ability to attract and retain educators, and wages.

“Salary is important for us right now because we find ourselves with the lowest starting salary of the western provinces and the 12th lowest starting salary in all of Canada. And we have the 9th lowest top of the salary in Canada. So, our salary is not in line with the other jurisdictions in Canada,” said Vogt.

A higher salary would be an important step in attracting more teachers to BC. Vogt mentioned needing somewhere in the area of 1,500 new educators.

“Even locally we’ve had situations where we haven’t been able to find enough TOCs (teachers on call), we’ve had people come in, take jobs, then leave because they found things more attractive,” added Vogt.

Vogt, of course, could not comment on the exact conversations at the table or if job actions could be taken but would say the union always consider all of its options.

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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