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Elementary teachers to strike

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced Nov. 28 its teachers plan to strike starting in December.
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The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced Nov. 28 its teachers plan to strike starting in December.

They've promised to give parents 72 hours notice before any strike, which will affect operations in each public elementary school throughout Ontario.

The union has not given any dates of when the strike action would begin.

“It is unfortunate that we have been placed in the position of having to strike by Education Minister Laurel Broten, but we will provide parents with ample notice to ensure the safety of students,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond in a press release.

“By her actions, the minister has let everyone down by stripping teachers and education professionals of their democratic rights, and shutting down talks at the provincial level.”

ETFO members working for the Rainbow District School Board will be in a strike position as of Dec. 10.

A press release from the ETFO said that on Nov. 11, the ministry and the union sat down for negotiations with a third-party facilitator, when Broten “abruptly shut the session down.”

“We continue to be ready to resume discussions in an attempt to reach an agreement that meets the needs of all parties,” Hammond said. “It's time the minister got serious about reaching deals that respect the rights of our members.”

Broten said in a statement that she was disappointed by the strike plans.

“Disrupting learning time for students is not in the best interest of students,” she said. “As the Putting Students First Act allows for local bargaining until Dec. 31, 2012, I encourage ETFO to negotiate instead of resorting to strike action. I will monitor strike actions very closely.”

Also on Nov. 28, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) announced it has suspended all negotiations with school boards until further notice.

A press release from the union said the action comes after the Ministry of Education refused to give approval to a number of locally bargained tentative agreements, deeming them not “substantially identical” to a deal signed last summer by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA).

It also comes on the heels of the rejection of tentative agreements by members in York and Niagara, the press release said.

“When OECTA signed their memorandum with the government in July, they established a pattern of accepting significant concessions,” said OSSTF president Ken Coran in the press release.

“In September, the Liberals and Conservatives passed Bill 115, which threatens to impose the memorandum of understanding or something substantively identical upon us. In spite of these constraints, OSSTF attempted to bargain deals that protect members.”

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