EDITORIAL: Arbitration the only real option

January 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

SO HERE WE ARE, half-way through the 2019-20 school year, and none of the unions representing Ontario teachers has been able to negotiate a contract with the Ford government.

Worse yet, none of the unions is even negotiating with the government, and all we’ve been witnessing is weekly one-day strikes by high school teachers represented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), the latst of which included those employed by the Peel District School Board.

In most labour disputes it’s fairly easy to see what the issues are, but not here. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the real issue is wages, with the teachers wanting more than the already-legislated one per cent annual increase at a time when inflation is running at roughly double that.

Spokesmen for the unions contend that the real issue isn’t wages but moves by the government that will diminish the quality of education, among them larger class sizes and mandatory e-learning, both of which will mean having fewer teachers.

In the circumstances, it’s interesting to see that neither side is seeking the only viable option – submission of the disputes to mediators who would be empowered to arbitrate the disputes if mediated negotiations fail.

Why? While unions always favour having negotiated settlements, governments tend to fear arbitrated settlements will be too costly.

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