Saturday, October 22, 2005

BC Teachers Strike - An Unmediated Unsettlement by Mr. Ever-Ready

For a couple of weeks now, the teachers in British Columbia have been on strike. Or, should I follow the lead of the CBC, itself until quite recently shutdown by a labour dispute, and invariably add the adjective "illegal" before the word, "strike"? It is quite remarkable how consistently the national broadcaster does this, as if listeners might otherwise confuse the illegal strike with some other action afoot within the province's school system.

Last Wednesday, no doubt following a script which the Campbell government's handlers had composed well before passing their vindictive and pre-emptive legislation, the inevitable call went out to messianic mediator Vince Ever-Ready. At last, the BC Teachers Union leaders sighed unconvincingly, their concerns would be taken seriously; Mr. Ever-Ready now the harbinger of a veritable spring-like thaw in this gloomy autumnal disruption.

Ha! Even the most gullible - and no one has ever ascribed that quality to the sagacious Ms. Sims -- could surely not have believed that an ostensible neutral called in by one of the sides in the dispute without palpable consultation with the other side, and on the payroll of that more powerful side, and with a history and, no doubt, future of continuing to be on the payroll of that more powerful side, would do anything much different than his paymaster's bidding.

Solemnly Ever-Ready declared an unbreakable impasse very few hours of taking on the well-paid assignment of...breaking the obvious impasse. This set the stage, following the script, for a non-binding set of recommendations which gave the BCTU essentially nothing indeed had its membership bankroll the changes they had been demanding by virtue of their foregone pay. The gloating premier and his myrmidons quickly accepted Ever-Ready's (read, their own) recommendations as did the BCTU which by this time,. could not even expect a graceful retreat route.

Two weeks then, for what? Pals of the Liberal Party like Coalition of BC Business Chair, Kevin Evans spouted away about how the teachers failure to obey the Supreme Court was an assault on the rule of law. But our system, such as it is, received more telling blows through this sordid mismatch than that - we saw a premier, a chap not famous for his lawfulness any way - flout the greater system of the public trust by essentially forcing the BCTU into a, yes CBC illegal strike and then a mediator orchestrated in to make a quick unconvincing show-process of seeking consensus before playing Father Knows Best.

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