Secondary teachers opt out of extracurricular activities
December 5, 2012
MUSKOKA - With no progress in labour negotiations, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation is stepping up strike action in protest of Bill 115.
Secondary teachers at schools across Muskoka and the province will now withdraw from all extracurricular activities, beginning Dec. 10. In a press conference on Monday, Dec. 3, the teachers’ federation also announced secondary teachers will be arriving to schools 15 minutes before classes begin and leaving 15 minutes after classes end.
“The administrative sanctions that have been ongoing for some time will continue, but starting on Monday, teachers will not be performing voluntary activities that they have been doing previously,” explained Peter Caroll, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation Trillium Lakelands District president.
Unlike elementary teachers, walking off the job, even for one day, is not part of the plan for secondary teachers, who will be present in the classroom for the full instructional day; however, sports teams, clubs and field trips will be in jeopardy.
Suggesting it is the students the teachers are affecting and not the minister, Trillium Lakelands trustee chair Karen Round said the board will take a wait-and-see approach.
“We’ll have to see how it rolls out,” said Round. “It’s unfortunate because unfortunately, they don’t give extracurricular education to Minister (of Education Laurel) Broten, do they?”
“This is a step that we have taken with great reluctance,” explained Caroll. “We have tried to bargain according to the traditional labour laws of Ontario; however, with the minister using her powers under Bill 115 to intervene, to meddle in the collective bargaining process, we have found it necessary to escalate our strike action.”
The secondary teachers’ federation cut off talks last week after tentative agreements continue to be rejected by teachers across the province. The union maintains it is the loss of collective bargaining rights, not a wage freeze, that is at issue.
“We’ve been quite prepared to recognize the economic situation with the province and to accept the wage freeze for the next two years,” said Caroll, who added they agreed to the wage freeze months ago. “However, we do expect to be able to bargain reasonable collective agreements that are fair to our members.”
At press time, no further meetings had been scheduled either between the teachers’ federation and the province or at the local level.
“At this point there are no negotiations locally,” confirmed Caroll. “We’ve attempted to bargain a collective agreement locally. We were unsuccessful at being able to do that.”
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