If province doesn't impose contracts, no more strike action: ETFO
Published Friday, December 21, 2012 2:02PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 21, 2012 6:26PM EST
The president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario says there’s one surefire way to stop strike action from disrupting classrooms in the new year, but it’s up to the provincial government to implement.
Under the controversial Bill 115, the province can force new collective agreements on teachers if no deal has been reached by Dec. 31.
But ETFO president Sam Hammond says if the government doesn’t exercise that option, there won’t be any further job action.
“ETFO will cease all rotating strikes and take no new strike action if Ontario's education minister does not impose collective agreements on or after Dec. 31 under Bill 115,” he said.
The head of the Waterloo Region ETFO agrees.
“We have always been willing to meet, and we want to have meaningful discussions and find a way to resolve this,” said Greg Weiler.
Broten has so far refused to say if she will impose deals in January. In a written statement, she ignored the union’s offer and urged unions “to put students first and to reach locally negotiated deals before the Dec. 31 deadline.”
Other political leaders were quicker to react.
“Clearly if you wanted this law to be passed, you should use its powers,” said Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.
NDP education critic Peter Tabuns asked the Liberals to hold off on forcing contracts until they choose a new leader in late January.
“This is the first time that we’ve had someone say let’s set things aside for a while and talk when we have a new premier who’s actually going to have a different read on what’s going on in the province,” he said.
Hammondsays nothing can be done while Queen’s Park remains in a state of prorogation.
“Let’s let a new premier be appointed and let’s work together to resolve this,” he said.
If job action is ramped up come January, Waterloo Region District School Board officials say their board will be prepared.
“We will be meeting over the holidays and determining what are the appropriate next steps in light of what we learn following Dec. 31,” said WRDSB executive superintendent Mark Schinkel.
ETFO says 92 per cent of its members have voted in favour of holding a political day of protest in January. The union also plans to set up pickets outside the Liberal leadership convention on Jan. 25-26.
With files from The Canadian Press