ETFO, OECTA set to take job action Monday unless agreements reached

Elementary schools within the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) and all schools within the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) will see job action next week unless agreements are reached before then.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has announced it will begin phase three of its work-to-rule job action beginning on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020.

For elementary schools in the LDSB, this means that in addition to withdrawing various administrative duties, educators will not participate in extra-curricular activities except for those that are scheduled within the regular school day. Educators will not plan or participate in any assemblies, except to provide supervision to students, nor will they not participate in field trips.

“Extra-curricular activities after the school day are cancelled effective January 13, and previously planned field trips are also cancelled. Schools will work with families on refunding any fees paid where possible,” the LDSB said in a press release on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

“It is important for families to know that there continues to be no impact on student learning and the delivery of the curriculum at this time.”

According to the LDSB, the EFTO has also indicated that its members will begin rotating strikes beginning Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 “if the government does not address critical issues by January 17, 2020.”

“While we have no further information on what this might look like for families in Limestone, it may be prudent for families to begin seeking alternative arrangements for child care should rotating strikes occur. The Board will be given five days notice should strike action take place,” the school board said.

“We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached soon at the central bargaining table between the province, the unions, and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), which represents public school boards at the provincial table.”

The EFTO said it is escalating its strike action after being “faced with a government that continues to demand cuts to elementary education and refuses to address key issues affecting students and educators.”

““In six months of contract talks, the Ford government’s education minister has given his negotiators no mandate to discuss anything other than cuts to education including a $150 million cut to public elementary education,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “That’s why there has been negligible progress on substantive issues like supports for Special Education, protecting the Kindergarten model, addressing classroom-based violence and compensation that keeps up with the cost of inflation.

“This government’s approach to education sector contract talks is a sham. The government representatives have confirmed that they have no mandate to negotiate issues beyond cuts,” Hammond continued.

“They have met with ETFO for a very limited time on each of the 22 days of bargaining since August making it obvious that there is no intention or ability for them to address serious issues affecting the education of elementary students and educators.”

At the same time, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has announced they will be taking job administrative job action on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020 unless an agreement is reached. The OECTA represents all English Catholic teachers in the province.

“With this partial withdrawal of services, OECTA members will be refraining from activities such as preparing report card comments, participating in EQAO- related activities, and attending or participating in Ministry of Education initiatives,” the ALCDSB said in a press release on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

“All schools will remain open and at all times, student safety and learning will remain our priority.”

OECTA members voted 97.1 per cent in favour of taking strike action if necessary in November of 2019. According to the OECTA, the action will continue until a tentative agreement is reached. The union said that further strike action, including a possible full withdrawal of services, could become necessary if the government refuses to change their positions.

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but we believe it is necessary to secure a fair contract and protect publicly funded education in Ontario,” said Liz Stuart, President of OECTA. “We have been doing our part to negotiate an agreement, including meeting almost 40 times with the government and school board trustees. However, the Ford government has been disorganized and disrespectful throughout the process, and they continue to insist on an agreement that includes significant cuts.

“We know Minister Lecce and other members of the government will trot out their misleading talking points about union escalation, but the reality is that this type of widespread strike action is rare,” Stuart continued. “Ontarians overwhelmingly oppose this government’s regressive education agenda, and they understand that teachers must do what is necessary to protect our rights and ensure quality education for all students, now and in the future.”

Kingstonist will continue to monitor these situations and provide updates when more information becomes available.

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