SOUTH DUNDAS – Back-to-back strike action by Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario members has students home from school February 5-6 and more strikes have been announced for February 10-11th.
Upper Canada District School Board was notified on January 31st that it would be struck in the latest round of rotating one-day walkouts this week. The union later announced that a province-wide strike would take place on February 6th.
A further round of strike action was announced after The Leader’s publication deadline. UCDSB elementary school students will be home Monday February 10th as the board and 10 other school boards are targeted for the next rotating strike day. Another province-wide EFTO strike will take place the following day, Tuesday February 11th.
The announced labour escalation last week prompted the Ministry of Labour mediator to call provincial and union negotiators back to the bargaining table February 5th. Talks lasted three days, but reached an impasse and were called off until further notice.
“ETFO made every effort over the past three days to move negotiations forward but it became increasingly clear that the Ford government was not willing to address key issues in any meaningful way,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond in a release.
“For example, the government wants to reduce funding to support the learning needs of special education students, and it wants ETFO to agree to those cuts at the bargaining table. We can’t do that.”
Education minister Stephen Leece responded that the government agreed to maintain the current all-day kindergarten program, which had been on the negotiating table.
“I have long said that compensation, pay, and benefits, remain a top priority for teachers’ union leaders, and that remains true today. Even following our formal commitment to one of their publicly-stated priorities, ETFO leadership continues to advance compensation for their members over the protection of the education system for our youngest learners,” Leece said.
Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell reiterated Leece’s comments on front line classroom supports.
“We have demonstrated consistently that we are being reasonable and student-centric by making major moves that have not been matched or reciprocated by the teachers’ unions at the bargaining table,” he said.
“Students should be in class. I am calling on the education unions to stop this escalation which creates disruption for parents and students – they deserve better.”
The ETFO two-day strike action follows a one-day strike on February 4th by Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association members.
All elementary and secondary Catholic schools province-wide were closed for a second one-day strike February 3rd.
Contract negotiations between OECTA and the province broke down the evening of February 3rd, after three days of talks over the weekend.
No local strike action has been scheduled for Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation teachers in the UCDSB. The union announced in January it would not schedule any further labour disruption until after exams were over.