Ontario high school teachers postpone job action
Teachers rally for collective bargaining rights in this file photo. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Tuesday, November 6, 2012 8:55AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 6, 2012 10:42PM EST
Ontario high school teachers announced a last minute postponement of planned job action over education Bill 115 late Tuesday.
“A commitment has been made to meet on November 7 to proceed in an expeditious and efficient manner and fast track to potential resolutions,” the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) said in a release.
The group was set to begin job action at midnight Tuesday. But the announcement said the organization would delay the move until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, November 11 in order to allow time for further bargaining with government officials.
If no resolution has been reached by that point, seven locals of the OSSTF, including Toronto and Halton, could begin limited job action including:
- Not attending staff, department or board meetings;
- Limiting outside co-op visits to school hours;
- Not communicating with parents -- via info sessions, meetings, informal progress reports or emails -- outside school hours;
- Not participating in the administering of provincial standardized tests.
Many teachers have already withdrawn from other voluntary duties, including coaching and the supervision of clubs.
In a recent bargaining bulletin, the OSSTF said its members will continue to teach students and mark their work, and may provide extra help to their own students and teacher candidates at their discretion.
Some local high schools sent letters to parents and guardians Tuesday warning of the impending strike actions.
In a letter from Malvern Collegiate Institute, a local high school located in the city’s east end, Principal Line Pinard outlined some of the actions being taken by school staff.
According to the letter, students’ report cards could be delayed and teachers would only be entering grades on the cards, not comments.
A separate list with teachers’ phone numbers was included with the letter and parents were encouraged to contact teachers if they had questions about their child’s marks.
“Parents are encouraged to contact teachers directly to discuss the progress of their child,” read the letter.
Additionally the parent-teacher interviews scheduled for four hours on Nov. 29 were cut down to two-and-a-half hours starting at 12:30 p.m.
The work-to-rule protest is directed at Bill 115 -- a law passed in September which imposes a two-year wage freeze on veteran teachers, and limits the ability to bank sick days and cash them out at retirement. Teachers' unions have been particularly critical of the bill’s take on collective bargaining rights, granting the province power to ban lockouts and strikes in the same two-year period.
So far, the union has said they would rather continue bargaining than send their members out on strike. But the decision to walk off the job rests with the union locals, raising the prospect that pickets might be set up to incite a reaction from the province, thereby creating an example to bolster their constitutional challenge.
In the meantime, the Toronto District School Board says it continues to engage in collective bargaining while maintaining its top priority: "to ensure safety of students and maintaining the integrity of the learning day."
As for students worried they might not be able to submit complete post-secondary education applications in time, TDSB says it is making efforts to ensure transcripts are complete before the deadlines.
High school teachers in Durham will be in a legal strike position next week, with Peel and York region teachers expected to follow before the end of the month.