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B.C. teachers say new effort to solve contract dispute blocked by government

Demonstrators react while listening to BC Teachers' Federation President Susan Lambert speech during a teachers rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia March 7, 2012.

BEN NELMS/REUTERS/BEN NELMS/REUTERS

The B.C. Teachers Federation says its latest effort to break the deadlock in the teachers contract dispute has failed and the union blames the government for refusing to budge.

Union President Susan Lambert says the federation had been working behind the scenes at the Labour Relations Board to have an independent mediator appointed to resolve the dispute, and had offered to compromise on every issue, including salary.

She says she even phoned Education Minister George Abbott last Friday to make him aware of the teachers' offer, but the government has stood firm.

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For his part, Mr. Abbott refuses to discuss the details of his conversation with Ms. Lambert, saying the two had agreed to keep them confidential.

Ms. Lambert says the government's refusal to budge at the labour board, combined with its plan to pass legislation on the dispute by Thursday, shows the Liberals never intended to try to reach a solution in the dispute.

The legislation would ban further strikes and appoint a mediator in the dispute, but the mediator would have to work within the government's policy of no wage increases.

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