Province-wide strike planned for all public school on Friday, Feb. 21st
The four largest teachers’ unions in Ontario are planning to strike on Friday, Feb. 21st, which will result in a complete shutdown of the Province’s public education system.
Teachers in the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation of Ontario (OSSTF) representing teachers in the Upper Canada District School Board, teachers in the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) representing teachers in the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, and the union representing French teachers, will all participate.
The job action will mark the first time since 1997 that all four unions walkout at the same time.
The four unions say the walk out is in protest against cuts to public education made by the Ontario government. Talks with all four unions have yet to produce a deal, and aside from negotiations planned Wednesday with the French Teachers, no new talks were on the horizon. Several major issues are unresolved, including class sizes, funding for students with special education needs, mandatory e-learning, and teacher safety.
The province says the teachers’ main sticking point is compensation. The unions deny that. The province has offered a 1% increase while the Unions have been asking for 2% as a cost of living increase.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement, “While union leaders are organizing further disruption, our government remains focused on getting deals at the bargaining table through private mediation. We’ve made very significant moves on our position, but union leadership hasn’t moved on substantial items – like their already generous benefits packages and maintaining hiring based on seniority rather than on merit.”
Harvey Bischof, president of the OSSTF called the move a show of unity between the unions. He said in a statement, “The different things on the table hardly matter in the face of a government that wants to slash fundamental supports for all of our students and that’s why we’re prepared to stand up together.”