Ontario Teacher Strike

December 19, 2012 by  

Ontario Teacher Strike, Thousands of public elementary teachers in Ontario stayed away from their classrooms Tuesday to protest legislation that has given the provincial government the power to impose contracts on them and to quash future strikes. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said the daylong strikes held at hundreds of public elementary schools in eight Ontario school boards involved 35,000 teachers – nearly half of the union’s full membership – including nearly 14,000 teachers in the Toronto area alone.

The strikes, dubbed by some as “Super Tuesday,” marked the public elementary teachers’ single biggest day of action in a series of one-day rotating strikes that began last week.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has given three days’ notice for each of the single-day strikes.

Staff at public elementary schools in Toronto, Durham Region, Peel Region, Greater Essex County, Lambton-Kent, Grand Erie, Near North and Waterloo Region were all taking part in the strikes Tuesday.

Teachers are protesting Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act, which prevents teachers from striking and freezes the wages for most, while allowing younger teachers to still move up the salary grid.

Unions argue it infringes on their right to collective bargaining and has hamstrung efforts to reach fair agreements with school boards.

ETFO president Sam Hammond addressed pickets outside the headquarters of the Toronto District School Board on Tuesday afternoon. He said that public elementary teachers may follow the lead of their high school counterparts and stop engaging in extracurricular activities in the new year if a contract is imposed on them.

“It’s something that they love to do, but they are so strongly and firmly committed to fighting this bill and standing up for democracy, they are prepared to step aside from those to ensure that our rights are not trampled on as we go forward,” he said.

Education Minister Laurel Broten says any walkout that takes place past Dec. 31 would be illegal. (CBC)
The walkouts by public elementary teachers across the province come in advance of a Dec. 31 deadline the governing Liberals have set for union locals to reach deals with their school boards.

Should the deadline pass without agreements in place, the government will impose a deal that will freeze the wages of many instructors and cut back benefits.

Hammond said Tuesday teachers will also stage a one-day “political protest” in the new year if a contract is imposed on them.

Education Minister Laurel Broten said a walkout past the Dec. 31 deadline would be illegal.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to hear Sam talk about what would be an illegal wildcat strike,” she said in an interview on CBC’s Metro Morning. “We will use every tool available to us.”

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