Ontario’s elementary teachers are asking for the help of a conciliator amid growing frustrations at the negotiating table, their union says.
On Wednesday, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario asked the labour minister to appoint an office “to help the parties at its two central tables reach fair agreements.”
The union represents permanent and occasional teachers, as well as education workers including early childhood educators.
“While incremental progress was made in July and August, bargaining since then has come to a virtual standstill” with the province and school boards, the union said in a statement.
“ETFO’s goal is to reach fair agreements for our members that also enhance learning conditions for Ontario’s elementary students,” said president Sam Hammond. “These are achievable goals, and ETFO will do everything it can to reach them. That includes participating in the legal steps of the collective bargaining process, like conciliation and taking strike votes.”
The union continues to negotiate, and is holding strike votes across the province until the end of the month.
On Tuesday, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation announced it would be holding strike votes for the next month, saying negotiations are going nowhere.
“Government representatives at the bargaining table have been asked, point blank, whether the Ford government intends to make funding cuts to elementary education in 2020,” Hammond said.
“All we are getting are evasive non-answers. That is completely unacceptable.”
He said the government is looking for cuts of about 2.5 per cent, meaning $150 million in clawbacks for ETFO teachers.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said that “as families across our province know, strike action disproportionately hurts our kids, especially the most vulnerable in our classrooms.”
In a statement released Tuesday about the high school teacher strike votes, “our message to our labour partners is always to put kids first, and continue to work with us in good faith to make sure kids remain in class each and every day.”
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