“We’re taking strike votes across the Province on the central table talks,” explains President of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario Hastings-Prince Edward Teacher Local Dave Henderson.
They met on Wednesday to speak about the current situation and possible job action. “The teachers are fully engaged in the process and knowledgable on the issues and are mobilized to fight against the government strips that have been put on the table,” Henderson says.
Before a strike can happen, he explains there are a couple of things that need to happen. First, all other ETFO Locals have to hold strike votes, which he says will be done by the end of the month, and a conciliator from the Ministry of Labour has to determine that there’s no movement on either side. Henderson says conciliation has been filed for.
Henderson says while a strike is looming, it doesn’t mean talks have totally stalled. He says there are still negotiation dates scheduled between the central team and the provincial government. Henderson adds that local negotiations have no started yet. “There has been very little if any progress,” he says about the talks that started in June.
“The government’s position is to put things on the table that would represent strips to our collective agreement,” he adds. Henderson says “major changes” are being proposed to the kindergarten program that would see teachers no longer apart of the program. Changes to the hiring process have also been tabled, which he says will interfere with the current fair and transparent process.
“On our side, we’ve been asking for more resources for our special needs students and something to be done about the increased levels of violence in the classroom,” Henderson says. He adds that the government hasn’t given much of a response to that.
Henderson says unless things change, he believes that the conciliator will come to the conclusion that there isn’t any movement on either side, meaning there could be a strike.