Parkland teachers have asked trustees to agree to the appointment of a special mediator to resolve their three-week-old labour dispute with the school board.
A special mediator was used successfully in 1997 to resolve the dispute between the Calgary Board of Education and its teachers.
In proposing a special mediator, Parkland teachers are responding to the board’s tardy request for a disputes inquiry board. “The request comes three weeks too late,” said Robert Twerdoclib, president of the Parkland Teachers’ Local of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “The appropriate time to establish a disputes inquiry board is before a strike begins. Under the Labour Relations Code, a disputes inquiry board cannot stop a strike once a strike is under way.”
Twerdoclib wondered why the board wants a disputes inquiry board now when two weeks ago the board chair rejected the idea out of hand. On February 23, Grace Gruber stated, “Having a third party intervene would not assist this process . . . The Disputes Inquiry Board's recommendation [two years ago] did not address the issues between both parties. Another imposed government process would only perpetuate this cycle.”
“Why the sudden change of heart?” Twerdoclib asked. “I’ll tell you why. Parkland trustees are once again trying to avoid sitting down at the bargaining table with us and hammering out an agreement. They are once again trying to foist onto a third party their responsibilities as locally elected stewards of taxpayers’ money. And they are once again looking to outsiders to resolve a local dispute.”
Twerdoclib urged trustees either to agree to the appointment of a special mediator or to return to the bargaining table and find a made-in-Parkland solution. “Teachers have always preferred face-to-face bargaining, and even the minister of education is encouraging the parties to return to the table,” he said. “Hours of work is the key issue in dispute, but trustees simply refuse to talk about it.”
Teachers employed by Parkland School Division normally provide educational services to more than 9,500 students in 22 schools located between Entwistle and Spruce Grove. They have been without a collective agreement since August 31, 2006.For more information, please contact Robert Twerdoclib at (780) 963-3842.
Feb. 23, 2007
Excerpt from “Open Letter from Grace Gruber, Board Chair”
Do you expect the government will eventually step in?While we do not speak for our government, we do believe they understand that having a third party intervene would not assist this process. The government’s intervention two years ago essentially brought us to where we are today. The Disputes Inquiry Boards recommendation did not address the issues between both parties, it merely postponed them.
Source: Parkland School Division No 70. 2007. “Open Letter from Grace Gruber, Board Chair.” Parkland School Division website. www.psd70.ab.ca/psd/content/homefeatures/whatsnew/negotiations/feb23.shtml (accessed March 8, 2007).
Board Statements to PressFeb. 23, 2007
Excerpt from “Board questions Union's mandate”
Our Board is very concerned with the length of this strike and its impact on our students. We believe the Union may be stalling as it hopes the government will intervene. While we do not speak for our government, we do believe they understand that having a third party intervene would not resolve the issues. In fact, the government’s intervention two years ago brought us to where we are today. The Disputes Inquiry Board’s recommendation did not address the issues between both parties. Another imposed government process would only perpetuate this cycle.
Source: Parkland School Division No 70. “Board questions Union’s mandate.” Parkland School Division website. www.psd70.ab.ca/psd/content/homefeatures/whatsnew/negotiations/feb23bs.shtml (accessed March 8, 2007).
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