The BC Teachers’ Federation is calling for an
independent mediator to be designated under the Labour Relations Board to try
to bring both sides together and seek a resolution to the current impasse at
the bargaining table.
“Everybody knows the two parties are far apart, so
what we really need now is an independent process to help us work together and
arrive at an agreement signed at the bargaining table, not one imposed by the
legislature in Victoria,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert.
Last week Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid
appointed Trevor Hughes, her assistant
deputy minister of industrial relations, and charged him with answering
the question: “Can the two parties come to a voluntary settlement?” His
deadline is February 23.
BCTF leaders have had three meetings with Hughes,
during which they have outlined teachers’ bargaining objectives.
“Unfortunately Hughes’ role has been defined as simply
providing a yes or no answer to the simplistic question of whether the parties
can come to a voluntary settlement. He has made it clear to us that he’s only
been asked to describe the status quo, not to seek a way forward,” Lambert
“We need an independent mediator to do the more
nuanced and challenging work of finding common ground, pushing needed
compromise and bringing us closer together,” Lambert said. “I certainly hope
that Education Minister George Abbott will hear this call, and join us in a
serious attempt to break the toxic pattern of fruitless negotiations brought to
an end by the legislative hammer. This is no way to build quality public
education in our province.”