High school teachers in the region will vote on whether or not they want to strike on Tuesday.
The contracts for the teachers expired in August and with OSSTF’s talks with the provincial government underway, but at a stand-still, all chapters will be holding a similar strike vote with a November 15th deadline.
“The parties are quite far apart,” explains Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 29 President Scott Marshall. He says if the cuts that have been announced to education are implemented they will have a negative impact on kids in school. “OSSTF is quite confident that the bargaining proposal they brought forward is very important to protect the public education system from the cut,” he says.
OSSTF has been posting negotiation updates on its website since the process began.
“The ask from our side is very reasonable,” Marshall says. He says they are not asking for additional staffing, but are asking that staffing levels remain at what they were prior to the government’s saying they would lay-off 10,000 teachers. “We’re asking for a formula to be embedded in contracts that would eliminate future bargaining around salary and it is simply cost of living increases,” he continues. Marshall says the third point of contention is the government’s e-learning proposal that he calls “ideological” and not well thought-out or researched. He says the OSSTF is asking for that to not go ahead until proper research is done on how students perform.
“The government still has significant cuts to education on the table,” Marshall says.
An information meeting being held Monday evening in Belleville, with Hastings-Prince Edward teachers voting on a potential strike Tuesday.
Marshall says it’s hard to anticipate what will happen, but says all teachers are informed about what the cuts will mean to schools and student outcomes. “We want to see that all the gains that have been made through the years protected,” he says.