Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) allude to Strike

Do the teachers of Ontario Secondary Schools require more compensation?

Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) allude to Strike

Statements this weekend from the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) have alluded to a full withdrawal of services in seven Ontario school boards – including Halton. It may happen as soon as the end of April 2015.

Bargaining between the province and unions representing public servants, including teachers and school support staff, has been underway since Fall 2014 after contracts expired in August. These negotiations follow the process outlined in the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014.

Central bargaining has been taking place between the province, unions and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), which represents public school boards at the provincial table. Major issues including compensation will be negotiated centrally, with local negotiation occurring simultaneously to deal with local matters. The Halton District School Board has completed several meetings with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) on local issues. Additional meetings are scheduled for the remainder of March, throughout April and into May.

OSSTF locals in Halton represent secondary teachers and secondary occasional teachers. Both groups filed for conciliation in late February with the Ministry of Labour.

Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, any party involved in bargaining can apply for conciliation through the Ministry of Labour. During collective bargaining, parties must use the government’s conciliation services before they can engage in a strike or lock-out. During conciliation, discussions may continue with the assistance of the ministry-appointed conciliator until an agreement is reached or the parties are at impasse.

Halton is one of seven public school boards identified by OSSTF for conciliation, although OSSTF has given no indication why these boards were chosen to enter into conciliation. The six other boards in the province in the same situation are:

  • Durham District School Board
  • Lakehead District School Board
  • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Peel District School Board
  • Rainbow District School Board
  • Waterloo Region District School Board

Although conciliation is a normal part of the collective bargaining process, it is also a step towards possible strike action. Strike action may include withdrawal from specific activities, such as staff meetings or after-school activities, but may be as broad as a full walkout. A minimum five days’ notice must be provided to boards before any action is taken.

“We understand this information about potential withdrawal of services will cause anxiety for our students, parents and staff,” says David Euale, Director of Education with the Halton District School Board. “As a Board, we remain committed to reaching fair, negotiated agreements and avoiding any disruption to student learning. We value our secondary teachers as dedicated, caring professionals committed to student success, and we are confident our excellent relationship with our teachers will be a foundation for successful talks.”

Should there be any job action by OSSTF, the Halton District School Board will provide immediate communication to parents and students.

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