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Liberal government has pushed teachers into action: ETFO

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

ETFO president Sam Hammond. (Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun)

ETFO president Sam Hammond. (Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

Elementary teachers have been pushed into taking strike action and do not do so “lightly,” their union president says.

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said in a statement Thursday that Education Minister Liz Sandals and her government have had eight months to reach a deal but instead demanded concessions that would negatively impact teacher professionalism.

“This is the minister who promised peace and stability in the labour sector but has created chaos and uncertainty for parents and schools across the province,” Hammond said.

ETFO is in a legal strike position as of Sunday, but won’t announce until Friday what the job action entails.

Sandals said Hammond owes it to the parents of young children to let them know as soon as possible if teachers will walk off the job Monday.

Under existing legislation — a law that the minister says she would be prepared to review at a later date — ETFO is only required to give five days notice of a strike.

Whether teachers work to rule or withdraw their services completely does not have to be spelled by the federation.

“I certainly hope that Mr. Hammond will make clear to boards as quickly as possible what is going to go on,” Sandals said. “We really need to be fair to the parents of little kids because we’re talking here about four- and five- and six- and seven-year-olds ... If there’s going to be a full withdrawal of services on Monday, the parents need to know so they can arrange alternative care.”

The government had expected ETFO to announce an administrative work-to-rule campaign that would impact EQAO testing and report cards but leave kids in school.

Premier Kathleen Wynne continued to express hope Thursday of a negotiated settlement with teachers.

“I’m confident that we will get there,” she said during a visit to Sudbury, where public high school teachers are on strike.

Teacher federations negotiate through a two-tiered process with major monetary concerns addressed at a “central” table with the provincial government and local issues bargained with individual school boards.

“We’re committed to getting back to the table and making sure that we get that central deal,” Wynne said.

Sandals said she was pleased that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has returned to the local bargaining table in Durham, where high school teachers have been out on strike since April 20.

antonella.artuso@sunmedia.ca

It’s Elementary Math

Number of ETFO members: 76,000

Number of English Public School Boards: 31

Number of kids who would be impacted by ETFO job action: 817,000


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