BCTF wants mediator removed
The BC Teachers’ Federation went to the Labour Relations Board last Thursday requesting the removal of appointed mediator Dr. Charles Jago.
Jago was appointed as mediator in the labour dispute between the BCTF and the BC Public School Employers' Association at the end of March.
According to a BCTF news release, BCTF president Susan Lambert wrote to Jago on April 2 asking that he step down as mediator. Jago wrote back, saying he declined to withdraw.
The BCTF pointed out his lack of mediation experience and is unsatisfied that he will be impartial, citing a 2006 report on public education in B.C. done by Jago on commission to former Premier Gordon Campbell’s Progress Board. The BCTF said the report’s findings foreshadow positions taken by BCPSEA at the bargaining table and also reflect policy directions laid out in Bill 22.
"Obviously, there is a strong linkage between Dr. Jago’s thinking, and the bargaining and policy objectives of this government,” said Lambert in the release.
“This government has legislated a biased process and appointed a mediator who not only lacks experience, but evidently lacks impartiality as well."
The BCTF said Jago told BCTF representatives that he was asked to review and “wordsmith” a draft of Bill 22 before it was tabled in the Legislature, and he agreed.
The BCTF also said that Jago acknowledged the Ministry of Education first approached him about taking on the mediation role in early February, at which time Jago tentatively accepted. This happened before the BCTF was asked for suggestions on who should mediate the dispute.
The BCTF suggested Justice Stephen Kelleher or Justice Ian Donald, senior judges with extensive experience in labour relations and mediation.
Education Minister George Abbott said he is sticking by his choice of mediator.
“I have full confidence in the qualifications of Dr. Jago. He is the right person for the job," said Abbott in a news release. “Unfortunately, while they (BCTF) 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 Jago’s appointment rescinded."
The LRB is expected to respond this week.