Elementary teachers prepare for work-to-rule job action

By Sue Tiffin

Local elementary school teachers represented by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario are planning to be in legal strike position as of Nov. 25 and begin phase one of work-to-rule job action on Nov. 26 as central contract talks between the union and the provincial government continue.

Key issues at the table according to ETFO president Sam Hammond are the need to address violence in schools more supports for special education class size and class structure fair and transparent hiring practices and preservation of the current full-day kindergarten program.

According to a Nov.14 ETFO press release the job action targets ministry and school board administrative tasks and does not impact on students.

“We are making this known well in advance to assure parents that this strike action will not affect students their learning or their safety” said Hammond. “ETFO members will be withdrawing from ministry and school board

administrative activities which will give them more time to focus on working with students.”

In phase one of work-to-rule job action ETFO members will not participate in any school board or Ministry of Education professional learning offered outside of the instructional day; not participate in activities related to the Fundamentals of Math Strategy;  not participate in any Ministry of Education online training or webinars; not participate in any way in the development of the Math Proficiency Test for faculty of education students; not participate in any EQAO-related activities; not attend staff/division/grade team meetings; and will not complete Term 1 report cards in full among other actions.

In phase one of work-to-rule ETFO members can still participate in homework clubs school dances concerts voluntary extra-curricular activities field trips and class excursions. ETFO members across the province voted 98 per cent in favour of central strike action as announced by ETFO on Nov. 1.

“Our goal is to turn up the heat on Premier Ford and his education minister Stephen Lecce” Hammond said in the Nov. 14 press release.

The same day the notification of job action was announced Lecce responded in a statement saying: “It is disappointing that ETFO has decided to escalate to a partial withdrawal of services which hurts our kids despite a limited number of outstanding items at the table.”

Lecce said the government and Council of Trustees’ Association have “only one interest in mind: landing a deal that keeps our kids in class.”

“Furthermore it is disheartening to see that ETFO has decided to specifically target several initiatives and resources designed to improve students’ confidence and knowledge in math” he said. “The singular victim of this escalation is our kids. Given that far too many students across the province continue to struggle with math this move will clearly hurt students in and beyond the classroom.”

Lecce said his negotiating team “stands ready for meaningful good faith bargaining 24/7 to reach the deals Ontario students and families deserve.”

The work-to-rule action is expected to continue until the labour dispute is resolved or further action is taken.

ETFO represents 83000 elementary public school teachers occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.

Last month a last-minute deal was reached between the province and the Canadian Union of Public Employees which represents about 55000 education workers in the province averting a full strike poised to proceed on Oct. 7.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation representing 60000 members announced Monday afternoon that OSSTF members in a strike vote held from Oct. 22 to Nov. 15 “have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action should it become necessary.” No job action has been announced. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association representing 45000 teachers is also holding strike votes this month.

For more information regarding labour action in TLDSB visit www.tldsb.ca/labour-updates.