Citing “months of delays and inaction by the Ontario government, and no indication that meaningful discussion will take place,” the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation announced they feel “it now has no choice but to begin the process of conducting strike votes among its members across the province in the coming weeks.”
Union officials made the announcement on Tuesday, October 15.
“The government claims that it wants to resolve these negotiations quickly, said stated Harvey Bischof, union president, in a press release.
“But from the beginning they have done nothing to help expedite the process, and now they are simply refusing to discuss substantive issues at the bargaining table.”
Bischof said the Ontario goverment delayed the start of bargaining by two months and have thrown procedural roadblocks in the way ever since.
“And so it was thanks to their incessant stalling and delay tactics that it took months for bargaining to get underway in the first place,” Bischof added.
“And now that we are finally at the table they are simply refusing to engage in meaningful discussions about the most important issues. Through five days of bargaining they’ve brought absolutely nothing of substance to the table.”
Bischof also pointed out that the government is sending other contradictory messages.
“Publicly, the Minister of Finance has stated that an agreement already reached in the education sector should be seen as guide for outstanding agreements,” Bischof added.
“But at the bargaining table we are being told that the content of other agreements has no impact on our discussions. Consequently, while the government and the trustee associations drag their feet, students across the province have lost access to mandatory courses, are being crammed into classrooms, sometimes with 40 or more of their peers, and are going without the critical support staff they need to succeed.”
Bischof said they are disappointed that their best efforts to find positive and peaceful solutions have been rebuffed and the management team is once again, as in other recent talks in this sector, intent on seeing increasing tensions before taking the process seriously and looking for solutions.
“As we undertake strike votes we will continue our efforts at the bargaining table,” Bischof said.
“We hope that the government will rethink its stance and come to the table prepared to discuss real issues that are crucial to quality education in Ontario.”
Bischof added the union hopes Ontarians will continue to visit bargainingforeducation.ca.
“To see who is really defending high quality education and Ontario’s future,” he said.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation will conclude strike votes by November 15, union officials say.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario.
They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.