By Jenn Watt
Published Jan. 28 2020
Members of the elementary and secondary teachers’ unions were on the picket lines last Tuesday as the rotating one-day strikes hit Haliburton County simultaneously affecting all schools at once.
The strikes were part of ongoing job action by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation which are both in the midst of negotiations with the provincial government.
ETFO’s issues include maintaining the kindergarten program smaller class sizes resources for students with special needs and teacher compensation. OSSTF’s issues include mandatory e-learning class sizes and teacher compensation.
Aside from the rotating one-day strikes both unions are conducting other job action scaling back what their members do in the workplace.
On Jan. 21 Trillium Lakelands District School Board sent a letter to parents letting them know how those job actions would affect students.
Elementary students would not be receiving report cards field trips were cancelled and extra-curriculars would continue if they took place during the school day.
Secondary students would be receiving report cards but without comments. Extra-curriculars may be cancelled if teachers are absent because the school board may not have enough supply teachers to cover teacher absences the board said.
“The school board regularly posts for occasional teacher supply recruitment” TLDSB communications manager Catherine Shedden said. “Yet despite even a recent recruitment the board does not have enough coverage for both classroom and extra-curricular activities when teachers are absent. Supply teacher coverage for classes has priority over coverage for extra-curricular activities.”
As part of job action OSSTF members are not covering for each other during absences.
Local MPP Laurie Scott released a statement on Jan. 21 saying parent frustration at the strikes was understandable calling it “unacceptable that union leaders would ramp up strike action and make families across the province scramble for childcare.”
The PC government provided compensation to families for each day their kids could not go to school due to the strike. Scott’s statement referenced an “immense uptake” in the compensation and said it “speaks volumes to the level of uncertainty union-led strike action causes.”
ETFO previously criticized the childcare compensation saying the government was bribing parents with their own money.