Elementary, high school teachers start work-to-rule campaigns

Grant Boone
November 27, 2019

That stance by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario will have little immediate effect on the Greater Essex County District School Board, a local board official said Monday.

Elementary teachers will hold a "Solidarity Action" on November 26, 2019; elementary teachers and occasional teachers will meet together outside the main entrance of their workplace and enter the workplace together, 15 minutes before the start of the instructional day. Educators will "simply distribute information to parents and the general public". There were no protest signs or chanting. Others said they backed the teachers.

"However, should the withdrawal of services progress to include further sanctions, it may have a more significant impact on school activities, permits and school operations". "I'm absolutely 100 per cent in support of the teachers".

Education Minister Stephen Lecce, seen here on October 28, 2019, said the government has been reasonable in contract talks, scaling back increases to class sizes and mandatory e-learning requirements. If the government wants to save money it should cut elsewhere, he said. The job action shuttered about 5,000 schools and affected more than two million students across the province.

Parent Sheryl Wang, whose daughter Helen Zhang is in Grade 6 at First Avenue, said she can understand both sides of the contract disputes. "The key is that regular school learning for children should never be compromised since they are the most vulnerable".

The promises are being backed up by the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA), which is also in negotiations with the teachers' unions.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has criticized the unions for asking members not to participate in any activities associated with the new "back-to-basics" math curriculum.

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The twin work-to-rule campaigns are not expected to have an impact inside the classroom, but parents and students will likely be drawn into the unions' ongoing dispute with the government with "information pickets" outside some schools.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario are in the midst to trying to strike a deal with the Ontario government.

The OCDSB says the information pickets may cause delays and possible traffic or pedestrian access disruptions at school sites.

Bargaining sessions with both OSSTF and ETFO were scheduled on Tuesday. While the union is in a legal strike position, it must provide the public with at least five days' notice before it can go on strike or withdraw services.

The elementary teachers' union calls the current withdrawal of services "Phase One" of incremental job action.

During the work to rule, high school teachers will also not complete ministry data reports or participate in ministry- or school board-driven professional activities.

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