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Elementary teachers to begin striking twice a week

A province-wide strike will happen once a week starting in February, along with rotating one-day strikes by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

A one-day strike affecting the Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board will happen on February 4th. The province-wide strike will happen on Thursday, February 6th, which will also involve HPEDSB.

“There haven’t been any negotiations since December 19th,” President of the ETFO Hastings-Prince Edward Local Dave Henderson says. “The government doesn’t seem interested in talking about any of our issues at the table.”

Henderson explains while both the ETFO and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation are both fighting against an increase in class sizes, the labour union also wants to get more resources for special needs students, measures to mitigate violence in classrooms and a commitment to the strengthen the full-day kindergarten model. Henderson says none of the issues are being addressed by the government.

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“We’ve put proposals forward but there’s been no reaction whatsoever,” he continues.

Vice President for ETFO Provincial David Mastin says it’s “challenging and puzzling” that the government seems to not care about the current state of bargaining.

Henderson says the reasoning behind moving to two strikes a week is to put pressure on the government. He hopes they will get the message and come back to the table. “There is no table right now,” Henderson says. “It’s empty, nobody is there.”

“Teacher union leaders once again are breaking their promise to parents as they proceed with a full one-day withdrawal of services, province-wide,” Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said in a statement. “The consequences of union-led escalation are real, as families are forced to find child care on short notice.”

“Stephen Lecce is just not telling the truth about the situation,” Henderson says in response. He says Lecce has attempted to make the strikes about compensation, but Henderson says it’s not about that. He points out how teachers picketing are losing money. “Special needs kids, violence in the classrooms, kindergarten model and fair hiring practices are our issues,” Henderson says.

Mastin adds that it hasn’t been just teachers on the picket line. Community members and parents have stopped by as well. “Even if these people don’t have kids in the system, they understand how important the issues were’ talking about are,” Mastin says.

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