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The Globe and Mail

B.C. education minister invites mediator suggestions ahead of back-to-work law

Teachers walk an information picket line at Sir Guy Carleton school in Vancouver March 5, 2012.

John Lehmann for The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

B.C.'s education minister is inviting the teachers' union to submit names of possible mediators as the legislature prepares to pass back-to-work legislation.

The back-to-work bill is expected to be voted into law today, preventing future walkouts, ending limited job action that started last fall and imposing a mediator.

Education Minister George Abbott says once the vote is passed, he'll write the union and the employers' association and ask each to suggest their own picks for mediator.

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Mr. Abbott says in the meantime, he expects the teachers to resume their normal duties, which he says students deserve after months of disruption.

The dispute has focused largely on wage demands, with a government report earlier this year concluding the sides are too far apart to negotiate an agreement on their own.

Mr. Abbott has already said he wants the mediator to find an agreement with the government's so-called "net-zero" mandate, which means any wage increases must be offset by other concessions.

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