Caught in a dispute

Summerland’s Good Will Shakespeare Festival will take place this year, but it will be considerably shorter than in the past.

Summerland’s Good Will Shakespeare Festival will take place this year, but it will be considerably shorter than in the past.

Instead of a four-day celebration of theatre, drawing students from around the province for a weekend, this year’s festival will be a series of three one-day events, two in Summerland and one in Vernon.

The shorter schedule is because of the decision by teachers to withdraw extracurricular activities.

Whether one sides with the teachers or the province in the ongoing dispute, it should be evident that the negotiation process is not working.

The dispute has lasted close to a year. While it was supposed to be a matter between the teachers and the province, students and families have also been affected.

In early March, classes were cancelled as teachers were off the job for three days.

The loss of extracurricular activities does not have the same effect, but once again students and their families are the ones most directly affected.

The same thing holds true during any other dispute between public sector employees and the government, at any level. Individuals are caught in the midst of disputes which do not resolve quickly.

This is not to point the finger at one party or another. The problem lies with the negotiation process itself.

By now, it should be evident that the process itself is flawed. No public sector dispute should continue this long and if the dispute involved labour and management in a private sector business, the resolution would likely happen much sooner.

Once the teachers’ dispute is resolved, it is time for the province to look for a different way of handling future disputes.

The extended dispute is not doing any favours for anyone.