TORONTO – Schools across Ontario will see several rounds of strikes this week, in the elementary, secondary and French systems, as teachers try to put pressure on the government during stalled contract talks.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario is holding a provincewide strike on Tuesday, and all other boards will be targeted a second day during the week as well.
Elementary teachers are on strike Monday at the Avon Maitland, Durham, Halton, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Rainbow, Thames Valley, Upper Canada and Upper Grand school boards and the Campbell Children’s School Authority.
The union representing French teachers has announced it will be starting weekly, provincewide strikes starting Thursday.
The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) has 12,000 members in the French-language elementary and high school system and had until now only been engaged in a multi-phased work-to-rule campaign.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which has been holding rotating strikes since last year, will strike Thursday at the Algoma, Huron-Superior Catholic, Superior-Greenstone, Greater Essex County, Avon Maitland, Peel, Niagara, Limestone and Renfrew County school boards.
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All four major teachers’ unions, including Catholic teachers, are engaging in strikes as little progress appears to have been made in bargaining over the past several months.
AEFO had been the last union to have regular bargaining with the government, but after two days of talks last week, president Remi Sabourin said talks went nowhere.
“We can’t just keep staring at each other pointlessly at the bargaining table,” he said in a statement.
ETFO president Sam Hammond has said the union was close to a deal with the government after three days of talks last week, but the province’s negotiators suddenly tabled new proposals at the 11th hour that the union couldn’t accept.
Hammond said key issues include special education funding, full-day kindergarten, hiring regulations and addressing classroom violence.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce maintains that teachers are escalating strikes as a way to angle for higher salaries.
Unions are asking for wage increases of around two per cent to keep up with inflation, but the government passed legislation last year capping wage hikes for all public sector workers at one per cent for three years. The teachers’ unions and several others are fighting the law in court, arguing it infringes on collective bargaining rights.