If the government can get a stay, then I want one, too.
Id like to apply for a stay on media coverage of all the self-serving, misleading spin the government and the teachers are throwing up. At least until something genuinely important happens in this eternal whine-fest.
Its not likely, of course. Theres an obligation to cover this never-ending grudge match because the stakes are so high. But its been four weeks since the B.C. Teachers Federations big victory in court concerning the 12-year-old contract.
All that has happened since then are matching displays of sulky hurt feelings, blind refusals to recognize the obvious, cherry-picking details to suit one side or the other and the nursing of grievances from days and years gone by.
The decision was a huge win for teachers and a correspondingly huge loss for the government. Sometimes people step up and react to momentous events appropriately. This is not one of those times.
After a succession of news conferences this week, it seems clear the union and government are moving further apart, despite the courts urging that they get together.
BCTF president Jim Iker held one to announce the union is taking a strike vote next week. (There had been an agreement both sides would keep their mouths shut in public about contract talks, but apparently the decision to call a vote voids that.)
It was an extended-play bleat about the unfairness of everything. Some of it was justified, given the court decision. But considering the position of strength the union is now in after the decision, it was surprising to listen to such a long whine.
He said all the right things about class sizes and the treatment of special needs in the makeup of those classes. But he said just as much about the unions determination to get a wage hike. For all the talk about the quality of education, this is also just another fight for more money for teachers.
Iker went on at length about the unfairness of the governments offer. Its unreasonable and disjointed and provocative. Its disrespectful. The indexing is vague.
But its an opening offer. Opening offers are never fair. Thats what negotiations are all about.
And missing from his media event was any explanation of why theyre holding a strike vote before the union has even tabled a position. He acknowledged the union hasnt put a percentage number on the table. Yet theyre beating the war drums even before theyve traded offers.
The reason they havent put down a number yet is because when they do, its going to be a whopper. They want parity with other provinces. They want some kind of per-capita measure jacked up by $1,000 a head, they want a market adjustment and a cost-of-living hike.
On the other side, Education Minister Peter Fassbender has made several appearances that have contributed next to nothing. Wednesday he said: Were now going to allow the court process to take its natural course. As if that has worked for them up to now.
And he continues to insist a 10-year deal is plausible. These two outfits cant even walk together to the start line, and he wants to commit to a marathon.
The bargaining agencys lead man, Peter Cameron, did a half-hour media turn this week. He spent part of it saying the court decision isnt relevant to negotiations.
He sounded like someone sitting in his living room, ignoring the elephant beside him.
When he did acknowledge it, he said it was very unhelpful. And he went out of his way to defend the previous negotiator, whom the judge landed on for bad faith.
By some miracle, both sides are still scheduled to continue negotiating sessions. Theyve met since the court decision and theyll meet even past the strike vote.
Watching these outfits do contracts is like watching two sworn enemies enter a three-legged race.
Theyll eventually put together some kind of grudging ceasefire, as they always do. But its getting harder to put up with all the nonsense that comes with it.
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