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Vince Ready photo by CBC.

Vince Ready. photo by CBC.

Who is this cat Vince Ready, anyway? He seems to drift in and out of labor disputes, like the magic fairy, touching things with his wand and all is well!

Don’t get me wrong. I have enormous admiration for Mr. Ready. For many years he has been a positive factor in labor disputes and obviously has the confidence of both labor and management.

It was interesting to watch his involvement in the teachers strike. Now he was here, now he wasn’t. When it didn’t seem to be an appropriate moment – and it was his decision – he withdrew from the scene. When it was right he reappeared and the matter got settled.

I don’t know Mr. Ready – sadly – but I have watched him at work for many years now. He has had remarkable success and when there is a major labor dispute, his name is aways front and centre.

I have often wondered how he gets paid and who pays him. Again, don’t get me wrong. He is obviously worth what he charges and perhaps then some.

If he is involved in disputes long before he actually appears to be, he must do a lot of research and have himself well briefed before he’s called upon. Presumably this means that the parties contact him much earlier in the game than one would think. Does he, then, work on a contract basis from the beginning of the strike to the end? If not, and he is only paid for when he is actually behind closed doors, how much does he charge and on what basis?

Again I don’t begrudge them this I simply think that the public ought to know. Obviously without his services the strike would cost a great deal more.

Now that Mr. Ready has done his job, surely it’s time to look ahead five years when, one suspects, the whole shebang starts all over again. No one would deny that there is a great deal of bad blood involved in this. In the strike just settled, it goes back as far as 2002 when the Premier was Education Minister and, if I am right, goes back much further than that.

Can we not come up with something which makes it easier for the parties to deal together before it reaches the disaster point and to do so with a reasonable chance that a strike can be avoided? I don’t know how this has this would be done. Perhaps it’s putting together a joint standing committee of teachers and the Ministry of Education where areas of potential conflict can be dealt with as matters proceed rather then when they reach the critical situation.

What does seem to me to be obvious is that the advice of Mr. Vince Ready ought to be sought on this point now. It is, surely, better to have him prevent a strike than settle it.

I know that five years seems a long way off but in fact it isn’t. It creeps up on us very quickly and suddenly we’re back where we started with a crisis and a potential strike on our hands.

With our children and their education at stake we must find a way to make it easier to resolve these matters before they reach a critical stage. Having a reasonable amount of goodwill established between the parties before they contract comes to an end strikes me as being a fair start.

In any event it seems to me that two lessons come out of this situation – first, teachers strikes are a very bad thing for society in general and, second, Mr. Vince Ready may be the man to seek advice from as to how to avoid the crisis in the first place and not have to be relied upon him to solve it later.

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