Ontario government says another strike “unnecessary” as teachers’ unions hold strike votes

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Ontario’s government says that they have been bargaining with teachers’ unions in “good faith” and the unions “threatening another strike just weeks before the start of the school year is unfair,” the province’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said in a statement.

Lecce’s statement comes at a time when teachers’ unions, that have been negotiating with the government since August 2022, are about to enter the second school year without a contract.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced yesterday that it will hold in-person meetings to conduct central strike votes, given the lack of progress made at bargaining with the government.  However, the union maintained that they want to reach an agreement without having to take “job actions,” hinting that ETFO educators would be returning for the new school year.

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Anne Vinet-Roy, president of the union representing teachers in the French public system (AEFO), also expressed disappointment in the bargaining process. “Like our colleagues in other teaching unions, we find it unacceptable that the pace of negotiations is so slow and that our members are starting the new school year without a work contract,” she wrote in a statement.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), too, said that bargaining talks with the government have stalled, saying that the government has shown “little interest in engaging in substantive negotiations” and little progress has been made.

Supporting the other teachers’ unions, René Jansen in de Wal, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), said that while the teachers are committed to working hard, they need the government to “come and actually have real conversations and deal with the real issues.”

Ontario’s main four teachers’ unions – ETFO, AEFO, OSSTF and OECTA – have been without a contract for a year. In November last year, thousands of education workers went on a province-wide strike following a decision by the Ford government to impose a 4-year contract on them – and prevent them from going on strike.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the provincial government reached a tentative agreement in December, giving CUPE members an increase of $1 hourly wage, or about 3.59 per cent annually was decided, ending the strike.

However, the other unions that make up the province’s education sector have been on the edges of bargaining for over 12 months, with no progress in sight.

 

Rahat Sandhu

NEWS

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