By Stacey Thompson
Ontario’s biggest teacher’s union is prepping to go on strike in December, in reaction to the Ontario government’s anti–strike law. But the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario vowed Thursday to give 72 hours notice before any strike actions are taken.
“We’re left with little choice, it’s one of the few tools we have left,” Andy Lomnicki, vice president of Toronto branch of the teacher’s union, told Humber News.
Bill 115 was put into place Sept. 11 and is meant to implement restraint measures within the educational sectors. This will include wage freezes for two years while allowing younger teachers to move up the salary grid. The government will have the right to impose its own agreement if it doesn’t agree with what the unions and school boards when they negotiate.
“There have been no meaningful discussions with the government, and there is obviously frustration with that aspect of it and frankly with the parameters of the legislation itself,” said Lomnicki. “So this is a vehicle to vent that frustration and to signal to the government that they need to take this seriously.”
“Disrupting learning time for students is not in the best interest of students,” Education Minister Laurel Broten said in a statement on Wednesday published in the Globe and Mail.
“I will monitor strike actions very closely. The government does have tools to address these actions, and we will explore those options if required,” the minster said.
Lomnicki said that if there are any talks to move past the current impasse, which teachers are open too, the talks need to be taken seriously by the government.
According to the Globe and Mail despite the union’s announcement, a walkout date is still unknown.
Lomnicki said in order to allow parents to make accommodations for their children, teachers will give 72 hours notice in the event of a lockout.
CP24 reported that that strike actions will include skipping staff and department meetings, parent–teacher meetings outside of school hours, and attendance records will not be submitted.
Lomnicki said that with Bill 115, the minister of education has the power to stop a strike through orders in council. The premise in the bill is that the government can impose any kind of work terms and conditions, he said. This will include an agreement that was signed by the union members, which can be put into action.
“It is there ready to be stapled to the back of our collective agreements at any point, but the deadline in theory is Dec. 31, and at any point the government, specifically the ministry of education, has the power to pull the terms and conditions on our work,” Lomnicki added.