Teachers’ unions threaten province-wide strike against imposed contract

Hours after Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten (above) announced of imposing contracts on Ontario’s public school teachers to freeze wages and bring the ongoing rotating one-day strikes to an end, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation threatened to call for a province-wide one day strike.

The action may be deemed as illegal due to the new law coming into force, but the two powerful unions maintain that Bill 115, passed with support from the Progressive Conservatives, impinges unconstitutionally into the teachers’ collective bargaining rights. The unions also threatened to challenge the decision in court.

The heightened tension follows Broten’s announcement that the minority Liberal government will impose the contracts on approximately 13,000 elementary and high school teachers under the controversial Bill 115 before students are set to return to the classroom on Monday.

Earlier, the government struck a deal with 55,000 support workers who too joined the rotating one-day strike.

School support workers strike deal with government

The 55,000-strong school support workers have struck a tentative deal with the Ontario government through their union. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced the deal on Sunday after 30 hours of negotiations — just one day before the deadline for unions to reach deals with their local school boards. The CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn said in a statement, ” Bill 115 created an unnecessary crisis, making things much more difficult at the bargaining table.” Hahn added, “It was the strength and support of our members, and the tireless work of our bargaining committee that made this tentative agreement possible.” Following the deal, Education Minister Laurel Broten is expected to begin imposing contracts on January 2, and, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation may follow suit.

Teachers’ strike spreads like an epidemic

It’s spreading like an epidemic. About 35,000 Ontario teachers, nearly half of the total, have joined the picket on Tuesday following Monday’s action in Hamilton and parts of northern Ontario. Seven other school boards of the province joined the picket on Tuesday. Next week, three more Ontario school boards will experience strikes at their elementary schools, according to a schedule received from the teacher’s union. Strike was observed last week in North York region following pickets in Ottawa-Carleton, Lakehead in Thunder Bay, and Hastings-Prince Edward. The one-day walkout by teachers is being affected in protest of legislation that allows the province to impose contract on teachers and prevent them from striking. Earlier, the province allowed the walkouts as long as they only last one day at a time.

Teachers’ strike to be allowed

Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten agreed to allow a series of one-day strikes by public elementary school teachers across Ontario. Revising her previous hard-line stance, Broten said, “We’ve chosen a path that we will tolerate for one day, legal strike activity.”

Minister-teachers showdown imminent
Ontario education minister Laurel Broten (above) says she has power to impose collective agreement to halt a strike threatened by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). The minister’s comment follows the ETFO announcement that teachers and school staff will be in a position to strike at any of their schools across the province next month by giving parents 72 hours notice.