Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Government, union both to blame for the school mess

There has been a remarkable amount of vitriol from those who blame the current educational mess on the Liberal government or the B.C. Teachers' Federation.
The reality is they are both to blame. They have proven incapable of real collective bargaining for decades. Both now appear to like the irresponsibility of sham negotiations, a battle for public support with accompanying posturing and a legislated contract.
And, as I noted in this column a year ago, both have had at more than five years to accept sensible proposals that would have created the possibility of effective bargaining.

Both sides to blame for coming teachers' strike

March 25, 2011

We're heading toward another teachers' strike in B.C., and parents and taxpayers should be angry at the government and the B.C. Teachers Federation.
The bargaining relationship - or non-bargaining relationship - between the union and the government is needlessly destructive.
Worse, the parties - the BCTF, the school employers bargaining association and government - seem incapable of taking the basic steps to fix it...

This is all especially discouraging because the parties have been offered two different approaches that could avoid a pointless deadlock.
Vince Ready, asked to look into a 2006 dispute, recommended a new bargaining approach for this round.
Both parties should establish their objectives eight months before the contract expires, he wrote. That would have been last Sept. 30.
A facilitator/mediator - either agreed to by both parties, or appointed by the labour minister - should then immediately begin to meet with them in negotiating sessions, and where helpful make recommendations. A senior government representative should be at the table. And the parties should develop an agreed on statement of facts about the current situation - cost of compensation and benefits, recruitment issues and the rest.
Don Wright, who reviewed bargaining in 2004, recommended another approach. If negotiations failed, he said, a third party should conciliate. If that didn't work, union and employers would submit their best offers and the conciliator would pick one to form the new collective agreement.
Instead, the negotiations are heading down the same pointless path...

It's not too late. The parties could adopt Ready's approach and start realistic talks. The government could stick with its no net pay increase mandate. The union could win a commitment to cut class sizes and provide more preparation time. They could bargain.


Anonymous said...

"The parties could adopt Ready's approach..."

This is where the BC Liberals lost credibility as they failed to follow Ready's sensible lead.

paul said...

As did the BCTF, which also failed to support the recommendations of Ready or Wright. This is not a situation where one side bears the blame.

Anonymous said...

I disagree Paul.

The BC Liberals have the legislative hammer and could have forced the issue if they had been so inclined.

It serves the BC Liberals purpose to aggravate parents with school closures as the teachers have/had overwhelming public support.

The BC Liberals could have gone through the Ready report point by point and if the BCTF disagred, or refused to bagain then that individual point could have been hammered.

Take the costing issue. Here they are months into the bargaining process and the parties still do not agree on how to cost the agreement. This should have been settled before they even met, and if they could not agree Ready should have been engaged to lay down the terms; same with local/provincial issues etc.