Education workers begin job action
By Angelica Ingram
While just weeks ago representatives from the Trillium Lakelands District School Board were hopeful the provincial government would reach a deal with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, talks between the two parties have broken down.
Last week it was reported the government and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association had walked away from the bargaining table and broke off talks with ETFO after offering the union a deal similar to what was accepted by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association.
On Sept. 14, ETFO issued a release stating the organization was rejecting the government’s “cookie-cutter” approach and asking the government to come back to the bargaining table.
“A student who is six years old has different educational needs than a student who is 16. Anyone with children knows that’s true,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond in the release. “As a result, elementary teachers’ working needs will be different than secondary teachers, so the imposition of a cookie-cutter deal just won’t work.”
On Sept. 21, ETFO issued another release stating it was going to be escalating work-to-rule action and was considering rotating one-day strikes in October if progress did not occur at the bargaining table.
“Parents and the public will be provided with adequate notice should these one-day rotating strikes proceed,” says the release.
On Sept. 18, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation voted in favour of the agreement offered to them by the provincial government in August.
Prior to ratification, members of OSSTF were without a contract for more than a year.
Education workers represented by CUPE began escalated job action as of Sept. 10, which prevents them from doing anything outside of their required work duties.
Workers include educational assistants, office administrators, custodians, library technicians, IT specialists and more.
“What the members are doing is the job which they are required to do and nothing above and beyond that,” said CUPE spokesperson Kevin Wilson. “They’re taking their full breaks, they’re taking their full lunches. They’re not cutting those short at the request of management. They’re not working any overtime, I believe, and they’re basically just fulfilling what’s required of them under the terms and conditions of their employment.”
Representing the workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees is also at the bargaining table with the provincial government, said Wilson.
Both ETFO members and CUPE’s education workers have been without a contract for more than a year.