ETFO to escalate labour dispute by walking out once a week, plus rotating strikes

Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario members picket along Bradley Avenue in London, Ont. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Sean Irvine / CTV London)

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has announced that it will be ramping up its labour action in order to pressure the Ontario government to come to a deal.

According to its website, ETFO says that weekly one-day strikes will begin starting on Feb. 3 unless a deal can be reached by the end of the month.

It's been almost 40 days since the last bargaining session between the province and the union.

The new, province-wide strikes will be in addition to rotating one, which means that, on any given week, a school board could see its schools close for two days of strikes.

Under the new strike measures, all 83,000 members of ETFO will strike on Feb. 6. The next day, a rotating strike is planned for teachers in Waterloo Region.

With a rotating strike underway on Jan. 27, local elementary students could miss three days of school in a two-week stretch.

The president of ETFO, Sam Hammond, says that the main issues are a lack of supports for children with special needs, large class sizes and violent incidents in schools.

"People here are frustrated, they're angry, quite frankly, at this government for making the cuts that they're making," he told CTV on Monday.

"They would much rather be in a classroom today, but we have no option, and they absolutely agree that we need to take a stand."

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce says the province continues to stand up against the withdrawal of services to students.

He says that, for decades, families have faced union job action too often.

Lecce blames compensation for the union's reason behind striking.

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