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Teachers send a message to province

Abandoning their classrooms for the day, about 800 Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) members filled the streets of downtown Sudbury Dec. 17.
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Public school teachers with the Rainbow District School Board filled the streets of downtown Sudbury Dec. 17, as part of provincewide rotating strike actions against Bill 115. Photo by Marg Seregelyi.

Abandoning their classrooms for the day, about 800 Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) members filled the streets of downtown Sudbury Dec. 17.

They gathered at Tom Davies Square for a rally, and then marched in a loop in front of the Rainbow District School Board office and then Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office.

The education workers chanted strike slogans such as “Hey hey, ho ho, Bill 115 has got to go,” and even sang Christmas Carols with altered words. In “Frosty the Snowman,” for example, the word “Frosty” was replaced with “Dalton McGuinty.”

The teachers were protesting against Bill 115, legislation passed by the province in September which imposes many contract terms on teachers, including a two-year wage freeze.

The bill also gives the province the power to pass a cabinet order-in-council to order teachers back to work.

The ETFO has been staging a series of one-day rotating strikes across the province since Dec. 10. So far, Broten hasn't moved to intervene in the strikes.

Classes were cancelled for all of the Rainbow District School Board's elementary school students Dec. 17 because of the walkout. Those participating in the job action were not paid for the day.

ETFO Rainbow local president Barb Blasutti said she thinks her members sent a message to the province.

“The minister of education (Laurel Broten) has been getting the message throughout the past couple of weeks with these rotating strikes,” she said.

“I hope the message she gets is we absolutely do want to negotiate, and we do want a fair and respectful collective agreement. She needs to get out of the way and allow that to happen.”