jim iker twitter christy with fassbenderVancouver: British Columbia’s striking teachers are turning up the pressure in their ongoing labour dispute by overwhelmingly endorsing a third-party resolution process that’s been repeatedly rejected by the provincial government. Teachers’ union president Jim Iker says 99.4 per cent of the 30,699 teachers who cast ballots on September 10 voted in favour of ending the strike through binding arbitration.

On the other hand, there were several promising signs in the B.C. teachers’ dispute on as meeting of government negotiator Peter Cameron and BCTF President Jim Iker with mediator Vince Ready scheduled.

Premier Christy Clark also said on Sept 11 that she thinks she can get a negotiated deal before she travels to India for a trade mission that’s scheduled to start Oct. 9. “I’m very hopeful that schools will be back, in fact, I’m certain schools will be back in session by the time I go to India,” she said.

The government has said binding arbitration could be expensive for taxpayers because a settlement awarded to B.C. doctors more than a decade ago prompted a tax hike.

Earlier in the day, nine unions banded together to announce $8 million in interest-free loans for financially struggling members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

Dozens of picketing teachers also protested in Maple Ridge, where their loud chanting penetrated Premier Christy Clark’s remarks at a municipal event.

With inputs from The Canadian Press