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  • Ed

Employment mediation, conflict resolution, good neighbours and restorative justice

The union Unite (the US one not the one over here) and Prospect are going into mediation with State of Jersey’s employment board to resolve their long standing pay dispute.

There have been protests by nurses and teachers last week (on Saturday so as not to interrupt school) over the below inflation pay settlement thus far offered.

As with many employment issues it often takes drastic action for people to take notice of problems which may have been simmering away for many years (I’m not saying anything about Jeremy Corbyn) having mediation techniques imbedded in your employment manual can avoid this happening but if you cannot avoid the problem then your first step should always be to head to mediation.

Northwest Mediation carries out employment mediations in many circumstances, both during and after the end of a working relationship and can help include texts in manuals and techniques in practice to assist your business.

Whilst we sit and worry about the cost of food increasing in a post Brexit Britain there have been other places in the world where real significant harm is being suffered by the lack of food resources being able to move freely through a county.

Fortunately in Yemin the fantastic results which mediation can provide are shown this week which means food stores will now be able to move again. The Houthi rebels in Yemen who have this weekend agreed to step back from Hodeidah (Al Hudaydah) (a port serving as a major lifeline for food and medical supplies for the whole nation).

The step is as a direct result of mediation which took place in December in Stockholm involving Michael Anker Lollesgaard, head of the UN cease-fire monitor team and Martin Griffiths, visiting UN Special Envoy. Griffiths has been working tirelessly with the rebels in Sanaa and the Yemeni government in exile in Riyadh.

Withdrawing will allow access to the 51 million tons of food stores housed at the Red Sea Mills.

And as the UK discusses returning Golden Eagles to Snowdonia over in Virginia mediation is underway at a wildlife centre to find a settlement between the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center and their neighbours (Blaine Creasy, Adrian Maver and Stan and Jane Seymour).

The families had brought two cases complaining about the noise and increased traffic that they allege the centre will bring to the area (as well as negative effect on house prices).

The not for profit centre has been wholly reliant on fund raising to pay their legal fees to fight the cases (the first of which was dismissed last year).

In a statement the wildlife centre said “Our opponents have deeper pockets than we do, please consider a donation to help us keep the lights on so we may continue to give wildlife a second chance. Any donation amount that supersedes the listed goal will be used for wildlife care”.

As with all mediations the aim is to save costs and time, and perhaps in this case as an added bonus to save some wildlife as well.

Inequality in bargaining power is a matter of concern in all mediations and all mediators are live to the risks such imbalance poses.

No more so than where the imbalance is ingrained through historical practice and near feudal systems such as rural Nepal.

The Asia Foundation seeks to address this imbalance, including those reinforced by previous alternative dispute resolution by non-neutral parties, by offering proper formal mediation with an independent group of mediators.

The foundation reaches for an approach that promotes understanding, respect and legitimate interest.

The mediators themselves are drawn from a wealth of different gender, religious, ethnic and class backgrounds, something which the UK mediation groups often struggle with, the majority of mediators still being pale and male (and I say that aware of ticking both boxes).

The Foundation is able to empower marginalised groups and enable them to deal with disputes and conflicts.

The Foundation seeks in addition to strengthen cohesion between disparate parties to avoid future conflict referring to the process as “a hospital that stitches broken hearts.”

It’s interesting to note that the mediators also confirm they have learnt from the work and grown both as people and professionals allowing them to participate in a wider capacity in the community.

Every mediation Northwest Mediation conducts has taught us something, whether it was a technique to pursue or avoid, a greater depth of empathy with those seeking assistance or the power of a simple question you never stop learning as a mediator and in the case of the Asia Foundation’s work in Nepal it is clear that this learning is having a significant impact on all involved.

It’s many years now since I stayed with the indigenous Americans in the US and learned of their traditions of dispute resolution.

Now a mediation circle from the First Nation (Canada) has suggested that the best resolution for three women who had posted allegedly racist comments on Facebook is to spend a year learning about the First Nation’s history and practice (including their reconciliation techniques).

A First Nations mediation circle says a Manitoba woman should spend the next year learning about Indigenous cultures and history, and practising acts of reconciliation, to make amends for her racist social media posts. The tasteless posts included calling for a 24 hour Purge style amnesty for shooting “Indians”.

According to their Chief, Christian Sinclair the Opaskwayak Cree Nation “saw value in turning a serious and unfortunate situation into a teaching moment under the spirit and intent of reconciliation…It was a win-win situation that allowed for true restorative justice and an approach of rehabilitation, as opposed to having a winner and a loser and someone being punished under the European justice system…This is actually very historic because it's actually the first time non-Indigenous have come into our circle to be dealt with in a restorative justice circle from an Indigenous perspective, so it is precedent setting"

The course of training for those involved will include anger management and counselling as well as writing apologies and completing a further 80 hours of community service for the First Nation.

There are so many cases which could have been resolved by early intervention of mediation it continues to surprise me the lengths the public (and some lawyers) will go to avoid referral. We can stop the inevitable domino topple, the run away train of litigation, you only have to ask.

Whether you need a mediator to help out with a construction matter in the Northwest, or council’s plans in Cheshire, a civil mediator in London, a commercial mediator in Manchester, a dispute resolution for your family in Liverpool, a neighbourhood mediation in Stockport, then our mediators at Northwest Mediation can help.

Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes or inheritance arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

neighbour mediation; commercial dispute resolution; civil mediation; commercial dispute; corporate dispute; commercial mediator; family mediation; inheritance mediation; property mediator; civil mediator; civil litigation; fast track mediation; injury mediation

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