Teachers protest outside MPP's office in Kitchener
Published Friday, September 14, 2012 6:26PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 14, 2012 6:35PM EDT
Chanting ‘Negotiate, don’t legislate,’ more than 400 teachers gathered outside the office of Liberal Kitchener Centre MPP John Milloy on Friday.
The sound of the protest is replacing the usual shouts and cheers that would have been heard at cancelled high school football practices and other extra-curricular activities.
Teachers and support staff from across Waterloo Region marched from Eastwood Collegiate Institute to Milloy’s office to protest Bill 115.
The legislation imposes new contracts on all education staff. It includes a two-year wage freeze and a cut to sick days, among other items.
Rob Gascho, president of Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation Local 24, says “We’re not going to accept that our democratic rights to free collective bargaining can just be stripped away by a piece of legislation.”
The union urged members to cancel after-school activities on Wednesday.
Students are getting caught in the middle of the fight between the province and teachers, and while they’re upset about activities being cancelled, most say they support their teachers’ rights.
On Twitter #StudentMovement2012 has been trending, with one Tweet calling for teachers’ rights to be returned and others warning students will soon be voters.
In Waterloo Region students are starting to feel the impact, though at Kitchener Collegiate Institute they are still signing up despite sporadic cancellations.
Andrew Clubine, a Grade 12 student and executive on KCI’s student council, says “I had a practice cancelled as well on Wednesday. It is frustrating but, again, I have to say I am in support of the teachers.”
Protests similar to the one in Waterloo were also held on Friday outside Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s constituency office in Ottawa and Education Minister Laurel Broten’s office in Etobicoke.
Broten issued a statement asking teachers to “Bring their protest to me, as they are doing today, and not put students I the middle.”