British Columbia

B.C. teachers say government limiting labour board

The union representing B.C. teachers says the provincial government doesn't believe the Labour Relations Board has any jurisdiction in the teachers' attempt to have a contract mediator fired.

BCTF says province has told labour board only courts can rule on mediator

Charles Jago did consult on the legislation ordering teachers back to work, but only on the section dealing with the mediator's role, the government says. (UNBC)

The B.C. Teacher's Federation says the provincial government has told the provincial Labour Relations Board that it can’t rule on the teachers’ application to oust the mediator appointed in their contract dispute.

The BCTF has accused mediator Charles Jago of bias in favour of the government and has asked the LRB to rule on a request to have him removed from the role.

But Lambert said Wednesday she's been informed by the LRB that it’s the government’s position that only the courts can overturn Jago’s appointment.

Once again, teachers and government can't seem to agree on anything, Lambert said.

"I am honestly so frustrated. I'm beginning to expect this kind of a rigmarole every time we try and move forward."   The BCTF maintains that Jago’s favouritism was demonstrated in work the union alleges he did for the government.

"He wrote the position paper for government that is the background behind the objectives they have on the table to strip our collective agreement even further," Lambert alleged.

Jago's input limited, government says

The government says Jago was asked to comment on the terms of reference for a mediator in the contract dispute and that he sought to make the terms fairer for both parties.

"Dr. Jago did make a comment and a suggestion on the draft terms of reference," Education Minister George Abbott said in a release Tuesday. "His comment was prefaced on his desire to have greater balance expressed in the mediator's terms of reference."

Abbott said that was the extent of Jago’s involvement with the legislation ordering the teachers back to work and removing their right to strike.

"We did not share with Dr. Jago any other component of Bill 22," Abbott said.

Lambert said the appointment of a mediator should be by mutual agreement so everyone is satisfied it's impartial.

The government did not comment on Lambert's assertion that the government believes the LRB has no jurisdiction in the mediator issue.

A government spokesman said it will provide its position to the LRB in writing on Friday.

The BCTF will have until April 17 to respond.

That's the same day the union begins voting on whether members will withdraw from all extracurricular school activities.


With fdiles from the CBC's Mike Clarke