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BC teachers asking LRB to get rid of mediator

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The BC Teachers’ Federation is asking the Labour Relations Board to have the mediator tasked with finding a deal between the BCTF and its employer fired.

BCTF President Susan Lambert says in February Dr. Charles Jago told the union he was given the chance to review and “wordsmith” a draft of Bill 22, the law which ended teachers’ strike action, imposed a cooling-off period until the end of the summer and brought in a mediator to find a deal within the net-zero wage mandate.

Bill 22 was passed in the Legislature in mid-March and Jago was publicly announced as mediator at the end of the month.
“He said that he took the language and changed some parts of it,” says Lambert.  “He took ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ and changed those parts of the language.  I don’t know precisely what it means.”

Asked if his edits changed the meaning of the bill, Lambert says she doesn’t know.  

“You’d have to ask Dr. Jago that.  The language I can give to you is that Dr. Jago told us he wordsmithed the draft legislation,” adds Lambert.

“I asked him does he not feel that this is a conflict of interest and Dr. Jago did not feel that this was a conflict of interest.”

She says the union asked Jago twice to resign but he declined.  She also claims Jago was approached by the province to be the mediator long before Education Minister George Abbott asked teachers for suggestions as to who could mediate.

Lambert also contends an education report Dr. Jago penned for the Liberal government in 2006 contains findings which mirror the bargaining positions of the BC Public School Employers’ Association.

“When Dr. Jago has come to these kinds of conclusions in this report, that worries because it seems that the report is almost a blueprint for the objectives at the table and the objectives at the table then are being mediated by the person who actually drafted the report.  It’s far too circular,” she says.

Education Minister George Abbott says in a release he has full confidence in Jago’s qualifications.

“He is the right person for the job,” says Abbott.  “Unfortunately, while they initially asked for a mediator to be appointed, the BCTF now seems intent on side-lining the mediation process by asking the Labour Relations Board to have Dr. Jago’s appointment rescinded.”