Opinion

Negotiations can leave deep scars

No one should be surprised that everyone doesn’t get all they want, all the time. Outright dictatorships notwithstanding, getting along in society is all about compromise. That being clear, it is still the task of the bargainer to get all they can whether at a weekend garage sale or an automotive dealership.

Contract talks between employers and unions have a lot of built-in tension as so much is at stake. Thousands of workers, millions of dollars may be involved as multi-year deals are hammered out over the bargaining table, ideally, anyway. Some negotiations may reach an impasse and never come to fruition. Some groups may even dissolve or disband as a result of unproductive bargaining.

There have been multiple contracts negotiated between  teachers and the B.C. government over the past decades. As in many other cases the intensity is cranked up as each side appeals for public support.

Children and their parents or guardians are the unwilling role players each time a contract comes up for renewal, and as always, each side assures us these citizens are a major component in their bargaining efforts.

An unfortunate and unavoidable sidebar in the scenario is what may linger long after the settlement has been reached... something not easily undone. It’s the resentment over things said and done in the heat of the moment that can taint performance and productivity on both sides of the labour-management chasm.

A negotiated settlement between teachers and their employers, would obviously be in everyone’s best interest, and the sooner the better. A legislated end to the impasse, as in past instances, would simply keep hard feelings hot, ready to boil over at a later date.

 

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