#teacher | Ontario high school teachers to hold strike vote

Ontario’s public high school teachers will hold a strike vote less than two weeks after a last-minute deal averted a strike by CUPE educational and maintenance workers.

It will also be the second major strike vote in Ontario education to be called during the federal election campaign.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement that strikes disproportionately hurt kids, especially the most vulnerable children in classrooms.

“My message to our labour partners is to always put kids first, and continue to work with us in good faith to make sure kids remain in class each and every day,” Lecce said.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) accused the Doug Ford government of failing to engage in “meaningful dialogue.

“Through five days of bargaining they’ve brought absolutely nothing of substance to the table,” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said in a news release Tuesday.

“We are disappointed that our best efforts to find positive and peaceful solutions have been rebuffed and the management team is once again, as in other recent talks in this sector, intent on seeing increasing tensions before taking the process seriously and looking for solutions.”

The OSSTF represents 60,000 members, including public secondary school teachers, educational assistants, psychologists, secretaries and social workers.

The union expects the strike vote to be completed by Nov. 15.

OSSTF said both the provincial government and trustee associations are dragging their feet while students lose access to mandatory courses and are crammed into classrooms that, in some cases, have swelled to 40 or more students.

CUPE made similar allegations that the government was not seriously negotiating before calling a strike vote within two days of commencing a work-to-rule campaign.

That strike, scheduled to start on Oct. 7, was called off when a tentative deal was reached just one day prior.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who has been a harsh critic of the Ford government, mentioned the work-to-rule job action while campaigning.

Education worker collective agreements expired at the end of August.


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