Ontario public high school teachers to hold 4th day of job action

OSSTF holding another 1-day strike on Wednesday
WATCH ABOVE: Secondary school teachers across Ontario will be holding another one-day strike in several school districts, including in the GTA. Both the union and the province remain far apart with no planned meetings set for the new year. Matthew Bingley reports.

TORONTO – The union representing Ontario’s public high school teachers said Friday it will hold another one-day walkout next week, the latest in a series of targeted job actions aimed at ramping up pressure on the province during stalled contract talks.

The walkout on Wednesday – the fourth held by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation in just over a month – will affect eight boards across the province including the Peel District School Board, which is the second largest in the country.

READ MORE: Ontario high school teachers from 10 boards hit picket lines for 3rd job action

Union president Harvey Bischof said Friday that after more than eight months of talks with Premier Doug Ford’s government little progress has been made on key issues including class size and mandatory e-learning requirements.

“Our job action next Wednesday will affect some school boards for one day, but the Ford government’s policies, if we are not able to reverse them, will continue to create chaos in the education system for years to come,” he said in a statement. “Ontario students deserve better, and that is exactly what we’re fighting for.”

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The union, which represents 60,000 teachers and education workers, began one-day walkouts on Dec. 4 with a job action that closed schools across the province. It has followed up with weekly rotating strikes that have closed all secondary schools and some elementary schools at the impacted boards.

Bischof said that the main issues at the table continue to be related to the quality of education, but Education Minister Stephen Lecce has repeatedly said the key sticking point is compensation with the union demanding a two per cent wage increase.

The province has passed legislation to cap public sector wage increases at one per cent per year over the next three years.

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Lecce said he believes parents would want government spending directed towards supporting “student success” and not teacher pay hikes.

READ MORE: Third 1-day strike by Ontario high school teachers in some boards a ‘virtual certainty’, union says

“This is why we will continue to vigorously champion the interests of students and seek stability for parents in 2020 who are frustrated and tired of the union-led escalation that began in 2019,” he said in a statement. “This continued strike action is unfair to students and their families.”

In December, a government-appointed mediator called off negotiations between the province and the union saying the parties remained too far apart. Bargaining is expected to resume later this month.

Bischof has said the union was not ruling out further job action – including a full strike – if a contract with the province couldn’t be reached.

Here is the full list of public school boards to be affected:

• Algoma District School Board
• Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board
• Greater Essex County District School Board
• Avon Maitland District School Board
• Peel District School Board
• District School Board of Niagara
• Limestone District School Board
• Renfrew County District School Board

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— With files from Nick Westoll