While Christy Clark was in Dawson Creek this week, she was asked to comment on the possibility of a mediated settlement with the BCTF. Her answer sent a message to any would-be mediator, that the government won’t agree to a mediated settlement the way things are now.
It looks like this strike may go on for a long time yet, as the government is still spinning its fallacious arguments about a “settlement zone”. A mediator’s findings would almost certainly put pressure on both parties to settle. The fact that mediation was requested by the union suggests that they feel that they have the upper hand in terms of reasonableness.
The government’s reluctance? Well, that’s a little harder to figure out. One would think a government would want a reasonable settlement.
I suggest that the government does not want mediation because it would like to see the labour dispute last long enough to hurt the BCTF. And why not? Time is on the government’s side. They don’t believe they need to worry about public opinion, as they have three years before an election. And the public has a very short memory.
The BC Court of Appeal won’t review BC Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of the BCTF until October. The actual ruling of the court will likely not come out for months after that. The government can simply wait it out, but the teachers have families to look after. Meanwhile, the government saves hundreds of millions of dollars if the teachers don’t work.
It seems that this government is quite happy to see that its public sector loses ground to inflation, that its public schools limp along on the good will of teachers, and that teachers feel disrespected and undervalued. Certainly that is the situation now.