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B.C. teachers, schools signal progress in talks with mediator

Striking B.C. teachers at the Vancouver Art Gallery during a noon time rally, June 16, 2014.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

B.C. teachers and their employer have made some progress in contract talks, announcing they've met with mediator Vince Ready and expect to do so again.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers' Association announced Mr. Ready's involvement in a joint news release Thursday, marking rare good news in the months-long teachers' strike.

The news release said the teachers' federation and employers' association met with Mr. Ready separately on Wednesday.

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The statement said Mr. Ready has agreed to monitor the situation and resume exploratory talks, or commence full mediation, when he believes it will be productive.

The parties have agreed they will not engage in public discussions about the strike pending further talks with Mr. Ready, the statement said.

Bargaining units from the teachers' federation and the employers' association met last week, marking the first time they'd formally done so since late June.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said after that meeting that the province was prepared to bring some "additional concepts" to the table, in hopes of negotiating a settlement.

The province's 40,000 teachers launched a full-scale strike about two weeks before the end of the school year, calling for wage hikes and for the government to address issues such as class size and composition.

The union's most recent proposal sought a salary hike and millions of dollars to hire more teachers and resolve grievances, but provincial government officials have said the proposals are unaffordable when compared with other public-sector workers.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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