Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Escalating strikes looming

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced this week they will escalate its rotating strikes across the province starting Monday, February 3 if central agreements are not reached by the end of January.

It was previously announced that rotating strikes would impact elementery schools across the Lambton-Kent District School Board on Thursday, January 30. More details, here.

“There is nothing to be gained by Minister Lecce avoiding meaningful and fair contract talks other than further damaging the reputation of the Ford government,” stated ETFO President Sam Hammond.

“Educators and parents are not going to accept the government’s deep cuts to public education that only serve to harm the quality of education for generations to come.”

Minister Lecce fired back in a statement released to the media.

“Teacher union leaders once again are breaking their promise to parents as they proceed with a full one-day withdrawal of services, province-wide,” Lecce said.

“The consequences of union-led escalation are real, as families are forced to find child care on short notice. Repeated escalation at the expense of our students, to advance higher compensation, higher wages, and even more generous benefits, is unacceptable for parents and students in our province. We firmly believe students should be in class, which is why we continue to stand ready to negotiate to reach a deal Ontario students deserve.”

Hammond said from ETFO’s perspective, fair contract talks must include: appropriate funding for Special Education, a strategy to address classroom violence, maintaining the internationally recognized Kindergarten program, fair hiring practices, class sizes that meet the needs of elementary students and compensation that keeps up with inflation.

“I challenge the minister to send his negotiators back to the table to address these issues because in four months of talks from August through December 2019, his negotiators had no mandate to discuss them,” Hammond said.

“It’s time that the Ford government recognized that our public education system is key to the future of this province’s economy. We must have the tools and supports to prepare students to realize their individual aspirations and productively contribute to the economic and social fabric of this province.”

If central agreements are not reached by January 31, ETFO will escalate its rotating strikes as follows:

– February 3: One-day strikes in Bluewater, Grand Erie, Halton, Ontario North East, Renfrew County, Superior Greenstone and Trillium Lakelands school boards.

– February 4: One-day strikes in Avon Maitland, Durham, Durham Catholic, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Peel, Rainbow, Thames Valley and Upper Grand school boards and Campbell Children’s School Authority.

– February 5: One-day strikes in Kawartha Pine Ridge, Keewatin-Patricia, Lakehead, Near North, Ottawa-Carleton, Penetanguishene Protestant Separate, Rainy River, Simcoe County and Upper Canada school boards and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre.

– February 6: One-day strike of all 83,000 ETFO members.

– February 7: One-day strikes in Algoma, Greater Essex County, Hamilton-Wentworth, Limestone, Niagara, Toronto, Toronto Catholic, Waterloo and York Region school boards as well as Bloorview, John McGivney Children’s Centre, KidsAbility,Moosonee, Moose Factory and Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre school authorities.

The Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) was notified on Saturday that members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), who are in a legal strike position, will engage in a one-day strike (full withdrawal of services) on Thursday, January 30, 2020, unless a settlement is reached prior to this date.

“Student safety is the top priority for the LKDSB,” public school board officials stated.

“In our schools and across our system, ETFO represents all elementary school teachers. A full strike would mean elementary teachers would not report to work and the LKDSB will not be able to safely operate our elementary schools.”

School board officials added: “If a settlement is not reached and the one-day, full strike proceeds, elementary schools will be closed to students on Thursday, January 30, 2020. As Friday, January 31 is a PA Day, students will return to school on Monday, February 3, 2020.”

School board officials are encouraging people to check the LKDSB website up to and including Thursday morning for updates regarding whether elementary schools will be closed to students on Thursday, January 30, 2020.

“The LKDSB is hopeful a provincial agreement can be reached, and the full strike action will be avoided,” school board officials said.

All secondary schools will be open to secondary students only on Thursday, January 30, 2020.

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