Teachers want independent mediator


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,” BCTF President Susan Lambert said in a statement Monday.

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 said.

“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.”