A biased mediation
Our last bargaining session, number 78, was February 22, 2012. Bargaining ceased when the government introduced Bill 22. The Bill suspended job action and replaced collective bargaining with a government directed “mediation process.” The terms of reference that bind the “mediator” are focused on concessions that must be included in the new collective agreement regarding evaluation, employer control of professional development, and assignment of teachers.
The BCTF views the mediation as a farce intended to lend credibility to contract stripping. The government appointed Dr. Charles Jago to act as mediator. The BCTF has objected to the appointment of Jago because he has no experience as a mediator, no experience with K to 12 education, and is too closely tied to the Liberal government.
Below are excerpts from a letter to Dr. Jago from Susan Lambert, asking him to step down.
In the discussion paper you prepared for government in 2006, you reached conclusions which demonstrate acceptance of the government’s position and BCPSEA regarding the matters set out in section 6(c) of the Education Improvement Act (Bill 22). The minister of education has advised that he read your discussion paper prior to your appointment.
You advised us that you were approached about your appointment as mediator in early February 2012 and tentatively accepted the appointment at that time. The BCTF is particularly troubled by this and by the fact that you were subsequently involved in the drafting of the legislation in early February.
The BCTF is also concerned that you described your task as having to find ways to align autonomy and professional development with the overall direction of the school and school system, as that is precisely the wording used at the bargaining table to justify BCPSEA’s demands. This statement presents the appearance that you have already concluded that these objectives are not capable of achievement within the terms of the existing collective agreement.
The BCTF has concluded that all of these factors create an apprehension of partiality. From the BCTF’s perspective, your continuation as mediator will undermine teachers’ confidence in what is already viewed as an unfair and tilted process of mediation.
Dr. Jago declined to step down. We have asked the Labour Relations Board to overturn his appointment.
In the meantime, BCTF table officers will meet with Jago and continue to express our concern with the process.