Public elementary teachers escalating job action

Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario File Photo / Postmedia Network

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Faced with a government that continues to demand cuts to elementary education and refuses to address key issues affecting students and educators, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is escalating its job action.

Starting Monday, Jan. 13, public elementary school educators are no longer supervising extra-curricular activities unless they are scheduled within the regular school day nor are they participating in field trips. If the government refuses to address critical issues in talks by Jan. 17, ETFO members will commence a full withdrawal of services strike on a rotating basis beginning Jan. 20, according to a release issued by the union Jan. 9.

“In six months of contract talks, the Ford government’s education minister has given his negotiators no mandate to discuss anything other than cuts to education including a $150 million cut to public elementary education,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond. “That’s why there has been negligible progress on substantive issues like supports for special education, protecting the kindergarten model, addressing classroom-based violence and compensation that keeps up with the cost of inflation.”

As part of ETFO’s updated work-to-rule action, educators will not arrive to work earlier than 30 minutes before the start of the instructional day and will leave within 15 minutes at the end of the instructional day. They will not plan or participate in any assemblies except to provide supervision to students.

Hammond also calls this government’s approach to education sector contract talks a sham.

“The government representatives have confirmed that they have no mandate to negotiate issues beyond cuts,” he said. They have met with ETFO for a very limited time on each of the 22 days of bargaining since August making it obvious that there is no intention or ability for them to address serious issues affecting the education of elementary students and educators.”

“Elementary educators have a responsibility to stand up to this government. Educators are very aware that what we are fighting for today will have an impact on generations of students to come,” Hammond added.

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.