OECTA announces province-wide walkout next week

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has announced it is planning a second one-day, province-wide walkout on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.

The OECTA announced the plan on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, and indicated that teachers in publicly-funded Catholic District School Boards across Ontario will not be reporting to work that day, nor will they be performing any of their teaching duties. Here in Kingston, that means that all schools within the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) will be closed to students on that date.

“We know Ontarians are growing impatient with these negotiations. Frankly, we share their frustration,” OECTA President Liz Stuart said in a statement on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. “But we cannot allow this government to wear us all down and force us to accept their devastating cuts. The long-term consequences for our schools and our students are simply unacceptable. Strike action is tough for everyone, but it is a sacrifice we need to make to show the government we will not be deterred in our efforts to protect what we have worked so hard to build.”

Members of the OECTA began administrative job action on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, and that action will continue until after Tuesday, Feb. 4, the union said. The union members also engaged in a full withdrawal of services on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. According to the OECTA, the union has not had a bargaining date since Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, and no additional dates are booked.

“Minister Lecce keeps talking about private mediation, but this is further evidence of how out-of-touch he is with the bargaining process,” Stuart said. “We already have a highly respected Ministry of Labour-appointed conciliator helping with our discussions. She has said we currently remain too far apart on the key issues to make negotiations worthwhile.”

The OECTA said it is now looking to the government to move forward with negotiations. “We want to keep the details of our discussions at the bargaining table, but the government cannot claim our Association has not been flexible,” said Stuart. “As far back as October, we have been making creative and forward-thinking proposals that should have satisfied all parties. But the government’s negotiators have refused to move, insisting they have no authority from their political leaders to reach an agreement that does not include deep cuts that take valuable resources out of the classroom.”

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