PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA - Elementary teachers across the province will be walking off the job in one-day rotating strikes, possibly beginning next week.
“This board will undoubtedly be on a single-day strike between now and the Christmas holidays, barring any changes,” said Steve Colliver, Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teachers Local president.
“Could even happen next week.” Though he added, “It’s not going to happen Monday (Dec. 3). We’ve been clear, ETFO (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario) has been clear in the press release, we’ll give 72-hours’ notice.”
The teachers’ federation is giving parents the three-days’ heads up as to which boards will be affected when, to give them time to make child care arrangements for the day, if necessary. The notice will be given through school boards and a press release.
“It is inconvenient,” said Colliver. “It’s unfortunate that it is inconvenient, but if the minister isn’t listening, I’m not sure what else we could do.”
In addition to the rotating strikes at school boards throughout the province, elementary teachers are moving their strike action to stage 2 starting on Monday, added Colliver.
“Starting this week, teachers, and that includes occasional teachers and designated early childhood educators … they will be in their classrooms teaching students during the instructional day, business as usual in that regard, but they’ll be withdrawing from all other activities,” he explained.
Those other activities include most meetings, administrative activities, parent interviews outside of the instructional day, field trips, excursions, teams and clubs, said Colliver.
“I know how people tend to react to this,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s nobody in my membership that takes this lightly. They understand the significance of job action in schools, but the minister of education has given us no choice.”
The elementary teachers’ federation is asking for Minister of Education Laurel Broten to sit down at the table with them to discuss Bill 115 and the impasse it has created between boards and the union locals.
“Bill 115 basically precludes me from doing most of the things that I would be doing in bargaining,” explained Colliver. “My members are disappointed, they’re frustrated, they’re angry. We’re asking the minister: why do you not take this seriously? Why do you continue to play games? If the minister were genuinely interested in solving the problem, I’m sure she would be like everybody else, let’s talk, let’s figure a way out of this.”