Ont. public elementary school teachers plan job action for May 11
Sean Davidson, CTV Toronto
Published Tuesday, May 5, 2015 8:21AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 5, 2015 7:23PM EDT
Ontario’s 73,000 public elementary teachers will be taking province-wide "central strike" action on Monday.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) union members have been alerted that job action will begin with the withdrawal of administrative services.
"All ETFO teacher and occasional teacher members will be engaging in strike action beginning Monday, May 11," union president Sam Hammond said in automated calls to members Monday night.
"EFTO does not take this action lightly, we have bargained for settlements and not strikes," he said.
Hammond has not elaborated on what would happen in the event of job action, but CTV Toronto has obtained a confidential release that was sent to ETFO members, outlining the work-to-rule protocol for the first phase of their strike.
According to the bulletin, once the labour action begins teachers will not:
- Conduct EQAO-related activities
- Prepare report card comments
- Attend staff or grade meetings
Finalized details of what will happen Monday in many elementary school classrooms across the province is expected to be announced Thursday night or Friday morning.
EQAO testing for elementary school students was scheduled for May 25 to June 5.
Ahead of the looming job action, some schools in Toronto sent letters home to parents warning that students will not be able to attend class in the event of a strike.
“As we do not know what the strike will include, it’s important to know that in the event of a full strike by teachers, teachers do not report to work and will be necessary for the Toronto School Board to close elementary and junior high schools,” one parent said, reading from the letter.
A similar letter was also sent to parents in York Region. It explained that job action is "not expected to significantly disrupt normal school operations."
Earlier Tuesday, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals told reporters at Queen's Park the strike action concerns her.
"I'm concerned with EQAO and not delivering that, because parents want to see how their kids are doing on provincial tests," she said. "EQAO results help to identify schools in the ministry who are suffering and need extra support."
The ETFO say they have been "forced" to take strike action because of demands tabled by the Ontario Liberal government and the Ontario Public School Board Association (OPSBA).
According to the ETFO, the demands include:
- The school board's ability to increase the number of students in classes
- Authority to direct how teachers should spend their prep time, which could interfere with teachers’ ability to plan lessons and engage with parents
- Limiting teachers’ ability to use their professional judgment in determining how to support student learning
- "Rescinding the fair and transparent hiring practices that schools boards are now required to follow"
Approximately 73,000 full-time and occasional teachers are in a legal strike position starting Monday. The job action would affect 32 elementary school boards across the province, and comes after approximately eight months of failed negotiations.
The ETFO notes that its 3,000 designated early childhood educators, education support personnel, and professional support personnel members will not be participating in the strike.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Zuraidah Alman