Victoria school board calls for mediator in teacher talks

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Victoria school board calls for mediator in teacher talks

School District 61 in Greater Victoria has written a letter to the BC Public School Employers Association to ask that a mediator be immediately appointed in contract talks with teachers.

Chair Peg Orcherton says her board is frustrated at a bargaining process that has gone off the rails.

“We want this issue to be dealt with. We have the students in our district in the forefront and we are frustrated by the way negotiations are happening. We believe that the parties need some assistance to enable them to focus on what there common purpose is.”

Orcherton says her board is not alone in wanting a mediator to step in.

“Some boards have said similar things as there is questions as to whether a mediator would be appropriate at this time. Our board took the position that it is. Everybody really wants a negotiated settlement sooner rather than later so that we can have certainty in our pubic education system and allow our students to go forward and achieve there educational opportunities.”

Orcherton says while the board wants a mediator to put in place immediately so far binding arbitration is not on the wish list.

“We are not there yet. We are watching closely what is happening. At this point we haven’t discussed that. We are hopeful that a mediator would be the next step although I understand that Peter Cameron has said that he doesn’t think that, that is likely but we are thinking that it would be a good step to try and bring the parties together.”

Talks will resume on Monday just as teachers launch rotating strikes, and the employer puts those teachers under a partial lock out.



  1. The government, via their hired pit bulls Cameron and Marchbank, have zero interest in a mediator. They are out to bust the BCTF as that is what Christy Clark has deemed. Duly elected school boards no longer control BCPSEA, which is supposed to represent the employers. The gov’t is pulling the strings now, and neither teachers nor students will slow them down. The lockout is proof of this. Cameron has admitted that the lockout directive needs ‘tweaking’. He hasn’t got a clue how schools operate. Banning teachers from helping students at lunch is something the BCTF or trustees would never condone.

  2. Is a mediator the same as “binding arbitration”? All other essential services use binding arbitration when a negotiated settlement cannot be reached. A settlement will never be negotiated as long as the government has the threat of legislation. There is a glut of teachers in BC, renumeration does reflect that vs locations like Alberta where there is a stronger demand. I still have trouble with the fact my five year old grandson’s Kindergarten teacher makes $84,000 plus benefits.

    • Mediation and Arbitration are two different systems. Mediation is to attempt to find middle ground and push both sides towards that end. Arbitration usually deals with violations of the agreement, discipline, terminations, etc., and is usually binding.
      Mediation can be requested by either side, so where is the BCTF on this?. It is not only the BCPSEA’s option.

      • Dwight:

        Mediation in this dispute will solve nothing. The parties are too far apart. While a contract settlement in this round is possible under mediation, the long-term acrimony and the differences remain.

        What is required is “binding arbitration” to be incorporated permanently into the BCTF-government negotiating process. Neither side will achieve an overwhelming advantage over the other in the long run (many contracts) because arbitration will eventually-if not sooner-level the playing field.

        For those who have no experience in arbitration, I prefer to use the term “binding” for emphasis because it is binding to the extent outlined in the Arbitration Act. Interested persons should google it.

        But arbitration need not be restricted to violations of the collective agreement per se.

        Are you implying that employers such as the government violate collective agreements? You’re being too charitable. Others will say it went much further-like tearing up collective agreements (HWU and BCTF)and stripping teachers of their constitutional rights-forcing the aggrieved to seek recourse via the court system-and they won-pending an appeal.

        But to respond, if mediation or arbitration are to be put into play, “where is the government on this? It’s not only the BCTF’s option.”

        On balance, however, it seems more incumbent on the government to demonstrate that it is sincere by taking the leadership role to start the ball rolling by explicitly agreeing to embrace the appropriate process. My choice is arbitration for reasons I have stated many times.

        After all, it is in the public interest.

        • Suggest you get some “INSITE” into this situation. Do you realize that the BCTF’s demands are in the area of $2.5 Billion Dollars?
          Where do you think an Arbitrator would go, dealing with that.? Remember the old say’about being careful of what you wish for. Perfect example.
          As I have explained to you in the past, in order to do the binding Arbitration, in this dispute, if you want the Arbitrator to pick one total proposal, you have to know this at the beginning to be fair to both sides. RE: Wright Commission.
          Do you really think the BCTF wants to take that chance?

    • How much does your five year old grandson’s doctor make per year? Far more than his teacher who, as was witnessed in the US, may actually put his or her life on the line for them in a school shooting incident. Are you aware of the stresses that teachers need to deal with? Not just introductory education at the kindergarten level, but parenting, counselling, dealing with family turmoil, poverty (remember, BC ranks #1 in child poverty in the nation), etc. Plus, like doctors, teachers are deemed an essential service. $84,000 at the top of the scale would mean that your grandson is also benefiting from a teacher with at least 10 years experience. What a deal!

      • Here you go again, TEACHERS are NOT DOCTOR, or any where close.
        It is people like you that makes the BCTF what it is a radical greedy Union.
        People will learn without Teachers, but they won’t live without Doctor’s.

        Next time your grandson is severely ill, call a Teacher. That is just as stupid as your comment, and demonstrates the .. we are better than thou attitude, being represented here by the Teachers.

        • Who said I was a teacher? Or are you just very eager to teacher bash? Teachers are not doctors, but they do belong to a profession. A profession that was forced by van der Zalm to unionize as that was the only realistic option left to them. Parents do leave their children in the care of teachers and that it a very big responsibility.

          • No, they do not belong to a Profession. Their Union , the BCTF lost that designation for them. Where have you been?
            A Profession is self regulated and the BCTF/Teachers could not handle that, as with almost everything else.
            This Union is more like a CULT. The general public is seeing this Union for what it is, but highly educated Teachers cannot. Scary!