(Photo: Peel District School Board)
Starting Monday, elementary teachers are entering the third phase of their union’s work-to-rule campaign, and rotating one-day strikes may begin next month if a deal isn’t reached with the province by Sept. 30.
As of Sept. 21, elementary teachers will not be filling in for absent teachers, updating classroom website, blogs or class newsletters, preparing report card comments, or holding interviews with parents unless the teacher identifies reason for concern about a student’s progress.
In addition, on Wednesdays, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is directing elementary teachers to avoid extracurricular activities and wear a solidarity colour, buttons, T-shirts and ball caps.
Parent Charlene Johnson wasn’t pleased with the announcement.
“The kids don’t deserve this,” she said.
Class sizes, teacher working conditions, student learning conditions, and preparation time are some of the major issues being negotiated with the Liberal government and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA).
Talks haven’t resumed since last Friday, when the province and OPSBA broke off talks and walked away from the central bargaining table, according to the union.
Johnson said she wants a deal hammered out “as soon as possible. I don’t want my son out of school with a strike.”
Peel’s public school board released an update Friday afternoon.
“As a board, we respect our elementary teachers and value their work with students. We remain hopeful that the fair, negotiated provincial agreements with all of our employee groups will be reached,” said chairwoman Janet McDougald.
Phase 2 is currently underway in public schools across Ontario, meaning elementary teachers are in class but will not: plan, organize or participate in field trips or fundraising activities; attend open houses or ‘Meet the Teacher’ nights; participate in board professional development, other than mandatory first-aid training, Sabrina’s Law and WHMIS; collect or distribute to students any paperwork required by the school or school board.
Education Minister Liz Sandals called the ramped up labour action disruptive to students’ learning.
English Catholic teachers voted to accept a similar deal, which ETFO president Sam Hammond calls “flawed.”