EDITORIAL: Negotiations on the brink

When it comes to a strike, no matter the situation, residents can only hope for swift resolution.

There’s no getting around it.

A strike is the worst-case scenario in any labour-management relationship.

It’s push coming to shove, and whatever the principles involved, ordinary people can’t help but feel embroiled in an artificial, adversarial position.

It’s a situation that  tends to bring out the worst on all sides.

In the game of brinksmanship – with employers and unions alike advancing pieces across the board and waiting for the adversary to blink – strategy replaces directness, and seeking an early resolution is interpreted as weakness.

Some appear to thrive on this kind of warfare; most of us end up suffering from it.

In the heat of battle, principles and loyalties come down to a decision to cross or not cross a picket line; ill-considered statements are made, friendships bruised and the normal good will of colleagues battered.

We see this tension occur daily, not only with the current strike against the City of White Rock by CUPE workers, but also in the series of escalating teacher job actions.

Those who simply say “everyone should get back to work and put an end to my inconvenience” are ignoring the fact that it takes a deal of soul-searching for matters to reach such a pass. Union members who vote for a strike feel they no longer have a choice, just as employers decide they, too, must resist demands.

In White Rock, what many took to be a smooth-sailing ship has struck what appears to be an iceberg. To the mayor and city manager, the tip – demands for long-term benefits and clearly defined hours –  may have seemed hardly worth striking for, but they may be overlooking a great deal under the water that took a long time to form and adds up to a significant rift in the hull.

In the school conflict, Education Minister Peter Fassbender may have a fair point when he says that to simply throw money at current problems could lead to ultimate economic disaster. But this, too, overlooks the fact that teachers – who feel they are dealing with over-large class sizes while not keeping pace with compensation levels – have had a lot of time, not to mention provocation, in reaching their current state of dissatisfaction.

In both situations, those of us on the sidelines can only hope for a resumption of fair and meaningful negotiations. The time for brinksmanship has passed, once we’ve all hurtled over the edge.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Tejwant Danjou was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu in West Kelowna

New collective debuts with Crescent Beach show

Nela Hallwas and Lyn Verra-Lay team for ‘Flow’

‘Lifting Hands’ mural on White Rock wall celebrates community’s COVID efforts

High school students, grads inviting health-care workers, emergency crews to add handprints

Former students’ mural showcasing Delta elementary school’s new logo on hold, for now

Ashriya and Karam Purewal painted the spirit logo last spring; formal logo mural delayed due to COVID

Refund emails from City of White Rock a ‘phishing’ scam

IT staff work to nullify security breach in ‘classic phishing campaign’

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read