Educators from BMLSS picket outside school. December 4, 2019. (Nathan Shubert, MyMuskokaNOW.com staff.
MUSKOKA, ON-Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (EFTO) will launch rotating strikes unless the government starts to make changes at the bargaining table.
In an interview with the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom, President of the Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teacher Local Karen Bratina said that if talks do not progress with the government by January 17th, then elementary schools will begin rotating strikes and a “full withdrawal of services.”
Before this happens, however, teachers will be taking steps to let the government know they are serious. “On January 13th, we will begin work to rule action,” said Bratina.
She said that what teachers will be doing is arriving at school no earlier than 30 minutes before school and leave no later than 15 minutes at the end of the day.
Bratina said that teachers will also not take part in extracurricular activities outside of education time and field trips will be cancelled.
Bratina said that the EFTO has been bargaining with the government for a while and that they are asking for assurance that the full-day kindergarten program will be maintained. “Education Minister Stephen Lecce in the media has said that he has no plans to make any changes, but at the bargaining table he will not commit to it,” said Bratina.
She said that the EFTO also wants to ensure there are more adults in the building to provide attention to all of the student’s needs, make sure that the students with special needs get the help they need, and address school-based violence in an effective way, “the students who are acting out need real resources.”
Bratina said that the government wants educators to find $150 million to self-fund their requests. “The government wants another $150 million cut to the public elementary education, so when we ask for something through the bargaining process, we have to pay for it by giving something else up.”
“They are trying to make education cheaper and we are trying to make it better and we are going to fight for it,” said Bratina.
The elementary teachers are also seeking higher wage increases than what the government is offering, “we are asking to be paid the cost of living,” said Bratina.