While the B.C. Liberals haven’t ever come right out and said they want to break the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), their actions seem to suggest they do.
Previously, Gordon Campbell, former premier, stripped teachers’ rights for classroom composition amongst other things, and more recently, the B.C. Liberals passed Bill 22 – 2012: Education Improvement Act, which imposes a “cooling-off” period which ends this Aug. 31.
Stiff penalties will be imposed if there is job action taken during the cooling-off period – $475 per day for individuals and $1.3 million a day for the BCTF.
The provincial government named a mediator, Dr. Charles Jago in late-March, and once again, the advantage seems to be with the government, as he wasn’t appointed by the Labour Relations Board (LRB).
Education Minister George Abbott reportedly didn’t inform the teachers of the appointment either.
According to the BCTF, Dr. Jago did a report back in 2006 on commission to Campbell’s progress board and the teachers say that the “report’s findings clearly foreshadow positions taken by the BC Public School Employers’ Association at the bargaining table and also reflect the policy directions laid out in Bill 22.”
The BCTF contends that Deputy Education Minister James Gorman asked Jago to act as mediator back in February and also that Jago told BCTF members in February that he had looked at and helped “wordsmith” a draft of Bill 22, which passed in March. Abbott denies this and says that if the BCTF believes this, it is wrong.
The BCTF is concerned and in fact, BCTF President Susan Lambert wrote a letter to Jago asking him to step down but Jago responded saying he would not.
Regardless if Jago actually had a hand in the creation of Bill 22, his being named mediator still has the teachers at a disadvantage as he was selected by the Liberals and was not independently appointed – as opposed to someone who would not be tied to either side.
That would ensure that fair bargaining could take place and that both sides could have their say.
The government shouldn’t get everything it wants and neither should the B.C. teachers; there have to be concessions made on both sides.
In the absence of independent mediation, that might not happen.
– Grand Forks Gazette