A peaceful rally was held in front of Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith’s office Thursday as the possibility of strike action looms.
Just under 75 people attended the rally, that includes Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario President Dave Henderson and Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 29 President Scott Marshall. There are no plans yet to hold a rally in front of Hastings-Lennox and Addington MPP Daryl Kramp’s office in Napanee.
If an agreement isn’t reached between the Province and the central bargaining table by late next week elementary and secondary teachers will work-to-rule. “Work-to-rules are often implemented in phases,” Henderson explains. “This is phase one.”
November 26th is the day teachers would work-to-rule if no deal is reached.
Henderson adds that this is meant to impact the school board and the Ministry, not parents and students. “Teachers will still be engaged in extra-curricular activities, they will still be teaching and supervising,” he says.
Marshall points out that all bargaining is being made public online, with the government’s side being published as well. “There’s nothing to hide,” he says.
Henderson calls the looming strike a “pressure tactic” to bring the government back to the table with “serious proposals.” He says ETFO’s main concerns are on the maintenance of the kindergarten program, getting more resources for special needs students and getting something done in regards to violence in classrooms. “The goals that we have are about getting more for our students, particularly for our special needs students,” he adds.
Marshall says they OSTF are working to fight back against the cuts to staff, which he says hurts the students who want more choice when it comes to picking classes. He says it also affects class sizes. “Tt’s noo that something that is geared for success for all students, especially many students in the Bancroft area,” Marshall adds on the government’s proposal to add e-learning to school curriculum.
Marshall says OSTF is looking to protect the gains that have been made in education over the past years. “Nobody wants to strike,” he says. Marshall says the cuts that have been made and are ones that are being proposed put them in a difficult position were threatening a strike is necessary.
“The government side has not been willing to talk about the real significant issues,” Marshall says.
Both Henderson and Marshall say that if teachers do work-to-rule, it will be done in a way where the impact is not felt by the students.