Teachers unions ramp up job escalation
Both sides appear to be digging in and that can't come as good news to anyone - not students or parents or the teachers who've been hitting the picket lines for weeks.
In a unified front, all four of the major teachers unions in Ontario say they'll walk off the job together next Friday closing more than 5,000 schools and leaving more than 2 million students out of classes.
The announcement was made Wednesday outside an event in Toronto where Education Minister Stephen Lecce was speaking.
All four union bosses were also in attendance - Harvey Bischof of the OSSTF; Sam Hammond of the ETFO; Liz Stuart of the OECTA and AEFO president Rémi Sabourin.
Hammond said educators in every school board will not stay silent as the Ford government proceeds to decimate our publicly funded education system.
Provincewide walk-outs have been held by all four unions as of Thursday, Feb 13.
ETFO, (public elementary teachers) continues its rotating one-day walk outs which today is targeting a number of boards including Bluewater.
Schools across the province were also closed on Tuesday during the province-wide strike.
The OSSTF (public high school teachers) have been holding a series of rotating one-day strikes since early December, while OECTA’s 45,000 members walked off the job for the first time in more than 20 years on January 21.
The OECTA (English Catholic teachers) held a province-wide strike last week while AEFO (French language teachers) held their first province-wide strike today but did return to the bargaining table this week.
Meanwhile Education Minister Lecce, upset with the escalation of job action had this to say - "Our focus is on keeping students in class, as they deserve better. That is why I am calling on the teachers' union leaders to accept private mediation today and end this needless escalation. Parents are losing patience with the disruption in their lives, the inconsistency in their children's education, and the financial impact of scrambling for child care. That is why we have offered financial assistance through the Support for Parents initiative, which has seen an immense uptake of more than 575,000 applications. 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. Parents and students deserve no less."
There are no new talks on the horizon outside of the discussions happening this week with the French language teachers' union.