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Down-to-the-wire talks planned to avert high school strike
QUEEN'S PARK -- Negotiations between the Progressive Conservative government and Ontario’s public high school teachers will resume on the weekend and continue late into Tuesday evening, as the two sides work to avoid a one-day province-wide walkout scheduled for Dec 4.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) said with little progress at bargaining table, teachers are prepared to ramp up their job action next week – a move that will lead to school closures for a day.
The government and union confirm their respective bargaining teams will meet for four consecutive days in a pressurized, down-to-the wire negotiation to avert the strike.
“There’s time. There’s time to reach a deal,” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said Thursday.
However, the union has indicated the two sides are still far apart – leading to concerns that a deal may not materialize in time to avert the walkout.
The union says the government’s plan to increase high school class sizes to a provincial average of 25 students per teacher and mandatory e-learning are major sticking points.
The union wants the government to return to a 22:1 provincial class size average, and spend more time studying the impacts and benefits of e-learning.
Meanwhile, the government says wages continue to be a roadblock at the bargaining table.
OSSTF wants a cost-of-living increase in wages – two per cent per year for three years – while the government wants teachers to accept a one per cent per year compensation cap.