Ontario public high school teachers will participate in a one-day, province-wide strike next week if a new agreement with the Ford government isn’t reached before then.
The full withdrawal of services would take place on Wednesday, December 4, following six days of information pickets and a limited withdrawal of administrative services that began November 26, as part of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) work-to-rule strike action.
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The announcement of the walkout comes on the heels of two more “frustrating days” at the bargaining table.
“This week we began a job action carefully devised to have no impact on students,” said OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof in a statement.
“It’s clear from these past two days of bargaining, however, that our action is having no impact on the tone or substance of negotiations,” Bischof said. “Through months of bargaining, the management team has avoided any meaningful discussion of class size, staffing, mandatory e-learning, or any other issue that impacts the quality of student learning.”
“Even in light of our current job action, far too little has changed at the table. We are left with no choice but to intensify our efforts to defend our education system against a government that has already begun to sabotage it.”
Bischof added that the OSSTF does recognize the one-day walkout will cause short-term disruption in the lives of students and parents.
“We are disappointed that we’ve been driven to take this job action. We cannot, however, stand aside and do nothing while the long-term interests of students are being compromised by the Ford government,” concluded Bischof.
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) November 29, 2019
Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, continues to say that striking will hurt kids.
“Our government has been clear, we want deals that keep students in class. For teacher unions to leave the table, to turn their back on our children, and to escalate to the point of compromising their education, is deeply troubling for parents and our government,” said Lecce.
Lecce said the provincial government has been trying to reason with the teachers’ union and made the offer of reducing classroom sizes from 28 to 25 and online learning courses from four to two.
However, Lecce says the union decided to “escalate” and didn’t accept the offers.
“I call on OSSTF to remain at the bargaining table, with third-party, independent mediation, up until the deadline. All parties that are truly committed to the success of our children will consider every tool available to avoid strikes which hurt our students,” said Lecce.
“Our government will never leave the table and continue to remain available 24/7 to reach a deal that keeps students in class.”