I’m all for new ideas in terms of mediation settings, whether it be walking mediations, Lego bridge building or as in the case of Philippines on a jail bus.
In Manila the, brilliantly named, Enhanced Justice on Wheels, EJOW, project has led to the release of 82 prisoners.
Two buses have been used to relieve the pressure on the jail population and whilst the idea of justice on wheels seems a little bizarre its relevance to this blog is that in the back of the two section bus (behind the courtroom front half) is an air conditioned mediation area, used by all parties to find resolution where possible, and which has led to the number of releases as well as helping with providing information on support services available to the parties involved.
The bus has dealt with all manner of criminal charges whilst simultaneously giving access to medical and dental help for the accused and/or released (or possibly those that used the emergency exit).
Whilst we at Northwest Mediation normally book mediations in formal meeting rooms or church halls we wouldn’t be averse to carrying out mediation on a moving platform.
Meanwhile in the more traditional non-moving mediation rooms the employees of BC Sawmills and the agent for the employers have commenced mediation.
There has been open criticism of the agent for the employer, Conifer, for delaying efforts to mediate but now matters appear to be back on track.
The employees’ union has accused Conifer’s stance of minimal wage increases of being “pathetic” which doesn’t feel like the best opening for a mediation but we often see opening statements which contain a certain level of vitriol, it often tells us what one side’s focus might be.
Conifer’s other suggestions include reducing overtime on holidays, extending probationary periods for new workers and preventing unions at disciplinary meetings. Oddly enough Conifer aren’t opening up discussions with the media prior to finalising any deal.
Back with my governing body, the Civil Mediation Council and Former Court of Appeal judge and head of the CMC Sir Alan Ward has repeated the CMC’s call for the promotion of mediation all civil disputes given the success of mediators like Northwest Mediation in resolving disputes.
Sir Alan described as “common sense” the move to mediate where ever possible, given the expense and risks which litigation represents, especially when compared to the risk of losing everything in litigation but said that lawyers need to promote the issue, as opposed to being the road block that some lawyers feel is the way to approach the prospect of mediation.
On the international stage mediation is being called for by by the former president of Catalonia to resolve the stand off with the Spanish government in Madrid.
Carles Puigdemont has spent his time in exile writing a book on the crisis which led to his exile and fleeing the Spanish arrest warrant. Within the book Puigdemont suggests that Brexit negotiator in chief Donald Tusk would be the ideal candidate, although the idea has not been approached for the role just yet.
Tusk was openly critical of the manner in which the Catalonian trouble was handled by the Madrid authorities.
Puigdemont who now lives in Waterloo in Belgium said he suggests Tusk “simply because of the importance of his role, for his great neutrality, as one possibility, not the only one" (Northwest Mediation will assist if called upon).
The book "The Catalan Crisis: An Opportunity for Europe" contains a clarion call for international mediators to assist.
Mediators are meeting with United Teachers (Los Angeles) and the Los Angeles Unified School District to attempt to resolve their dispute in relation to the contract changes being proposed.
Mediation is a requirement in these circumstances prior to the union striking, reports suggest that the step towards mediation is simply a box ticking exercise. Parties often come to mediation because, whilst the process remains voluntary, they have been told they need to, however in most circumstances where that is the approach of one or both sides mediators still manage to use the meeting to narrow the issues or work towards a solution.
In this case the unions, in particular UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl, have publicly criticized Austin Beutner the LA Unified Superintendent for delays calling the delays a “slap in the face” and accuses him of acting in bad faith (which is a technical phrase indicating unfair labour practices and allowing the union to strike sooner).
Delay has affected the timing of any strike and is now pushing for a minimum length of mediation to allow it to legally commence strike action, which the union does not want to be between Election Day and Thanksgiving (and would interfere with members’ holiday plans).
As soon as the mediation steps are complete the union is entitled to strike and there is clear pressure from the union on the mediators just to go through the motions, which again is something that we often face with mediations.
Caputo-Pearl said “The law regarding contract bargaining is, unfortunately, designed to advantage employers, string things out, allow for delays, and cut against the organized momentum of unions,”
It is always important to know the surrounding pressures in any mediation, this includes deadlines, technical arguments and external factors so that you can best understand what your clients want, how you can help them get there and what their reasoning is behind their stated positions.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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