Catholic school teachers starting work-to-rule job action
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) has announced that unless a tentative agreement with the province is reached, members across Ontario will be taking administrative job action beginning Monday, Jan. 13.
OECTA will join the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (EFTO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) in taking job action during negotiations.
"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," says 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 [Doug] Ford government has been disorganized and disrespectful throughout the process, and they continue to insist on an agreement that includes significant cuts."
Teachers' unions say they're protesting cuts, increased class sizes, mandatory e-learning and inaction on violence in schools.
Today (Jan. 8), public secondary school teachers at several boards, including the Peel District School Board, are holding a walk-out.
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, has argued that job action and one-day strikes are being utilized to obtain unreasonable pay raises. At a December 2019 press conference, Lecce called the OSSTF's demands "unacceptable" and said the union is asking for a $1.5 billion compensation increase.
In November 2019, OECTA members voted 97.1 per cent in favour of taking strike action if necessary. As part of this initial action, OECTA members will be refraining from activities such as preparing report cards, participating in EQAO-related activities, and attending or participating in Ministry of Education initiatives.
The action will continue until a tentative agreement is reached.
OECTA says that further strike action, including a possible full withdrawal of services (or a more prolonged strike), could become necessary if the government "refuses to change their positions."
"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," says Stuart.
"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."
The announcement comes ahead of bargaining dates scheduled for Jan. 9 and 10.
"It is never too late to do the right thing," says Stuart. "As we go back to the bargaining table this week, Catholic teachers call on the government to abandon their preoccupation with slashing spending, recognize that publicly funded education is an investment, and finally get serious about working toward an agreement that protects our world-class education system."
OECA says the job action will affect Ministry of Education and/or school board initiatives only and will have no impact on student learning.
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