VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – From the classroom to the courtroom; BC teachers and their employer are preparing do battle over a provincially-appointed mediator today.

“Dr. [Charles] Jago has been appointed as a mediator and he has no mediation experience,” argues Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation.

“We’re challenging the mediation because the mediation put an end to our right to freely negotiate a collective agreement. The basic model of employer-employee relationships is governed by a freely-negotiated collective agreement,” she notes.

“Teachers aren’t able to bargain a freely-negotiated collective agreement in this province because of the actions of the government and that means that we aren’t able to see addressed issues of critical importance to us: class size and composition and fair practices in hiring and firing. All of this are of very high importance to teachers,” explains Lambert.

One expert feels the only way to change relations between teachers and the government may be to change the government itself. UVic Labour Relations Professor Ken Thornicroft thinks an NDP victory in the next election could improve the tone.

“I think they would do it differently. I’m not so sure if it would necessarily be to the full and complete satisfaction of the BCTF. But I do think, at least initially, there would be a different approach to things,” he clarifies.

Thornicroft thinks it’s hard to predict how the NDP would approach the labour dispute. “They’ve been, actually, in my mind, rather quiet about the whole process to this point in time, so we don’t really know exactly what their position might be. But I do think they might take a somewhat more conciliatory approach.”