Local Public School Elementary Teachers Back on the Picket Line


All of Ontario's public elementary teachers are on strike Thursday, including those at the Greater Essex County District School Board.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has been on a work-to-rule campaign since November and has been staging rotating strikes for the past few weeks.

Today will be their first provincewide strike, followed by a second one planned for February 11.

ETFO had said that it would ramp up its rotating strikes if no deal was reached last Friday, and they are now targeting each board with a one-day strike each week as well as holding a provincewide strike each week.

Elementary teachers at the local public school board will be on the picket line today and Friday as part of the rotating strike schedule.

Along with the provincewide strike planned for this coming Tuesday, the rotating strike schedule will also have local ETFO members on strike February 12 — it'll be a short week for students as Friday is also a PA Day.

Union president Sam Hammond has said the union was close to a deal with the government after three days of talks last week, but the province's negotiators suddenly tabled new proposals at the 11th hour that ETFO couldn't accept.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the government has put forward "reasonable proposals."

Unions are asking for wage increases of around two per cent to keep up with inflation, but the government passed legislation last year capping wage hikes for all public sector workers to one per cent for three years. The teachers' unions and several others are fighting it in court, arguing it infringes on collective bargaining rights.

Plans to increase class sizes and mandatory e-learning are also key issues in contract talks.

With files from the Canadian Press