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Teacher unions plan information pickets, limited withdrawal of services

Teacher union picket earlier this month at MPP Todd Smith’s office. – Sharon Harrison photo

Schools will remain open and learning and extracurricular events will continue as secondary school teachers are set to begin information pickets and a limited withdrawal of services, Tuesday.

Teachers and education workers within the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board plan to join peers from across Ontario with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and support Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) as central negotiations with the government break down.

The ETFO’s last work-to-rule action was in 2015, from May to November. The OSSTF’s last campaign involved support staff in October and November 2015. In July that year, the union announced withdrawal from extracurricular activities, but an agreement was reached in August.

Locally, secondary school teachers, occasional teachers and professional student service personal may engage in information pickets before and after school, or during lunch breaks, at Hastings Prince Edward Secondary Schools, at MPP Todd Smith’s office, at MPP Daryl Kramp’s Madoc office and at various public locations around the community.

“These actions will not impact the regular school day,” said Scott Marshall, OSSTF District 29 president. “Educators will simply distribute information to parents and the general public.

“In addition to their efforts to inform the public, OSSTF will begin a limited withdrawal of services that will affect government or school board initiatives only. These job actions will have no impact on student learning.”

Duties that OSSTF members will not perform (similar to ETFO) include:
• Participation in EQAO preparation or testing
• Completion / submission of Ministry of Education Data Reports
• Participation in School Board Professional Activities that are based on Ministry of Education or School Board Initiatives
• Participation in unpaid staff meetings that take place outside of the regular school day
• Providing comments on secondary provincial report cards
• Will not perform the work of another bargaining unit, even if directed by administration.

“It is very disappointing that this government continues to spin their cuts as a modernization of the public education system,” said Marshall in a statement. “Their cuts will absolutely have a negative impact on student outcomes, and negate the gains that have been made in student success and graduation rates over the past decade.”

Marshall states the Ford government has failed to address crucial issues that affect student learning and the quality of education in the province.

“They have refused to acknowledge the negative impact increased class sizes, mandatory e-learning, and the loss of thousands of teacher and support staff positions will have on the province’s students.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced last Thursday he was reducing the number of online courses students would have to take, to two, from four and lower the increase of class sizes of 22 students, to 25 from the original plan to increase to 28.

OSSTF union was giving a 95 per cent strike mandate from members earlier this month. The ETFO union received a 98 per cent strike mandate from members in November. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association is also in talks with the province, with a 91 per cent strike mandate.

In absence of a new contract, union members could escalate action at any time, but at least five days notice to the government is required before any rotating strikes or walk-outs.


Filed Under: Local News

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