Government won’t interfere with one-day teacher strikes

Bullet News HURON COUNTY – The local school board is spreading the word to parents that elementary schools will be closed in the first day of rotating strikes protesting controversial legislation imposed by the Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty earlier this year.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has staged a board-wide strike in the Avon Maitland District School Board, which straddles Huron and Perth counties.

A letter to parents was sent out yesterday.

Bullet News Niagara is reporting multiple sources say it will be the site of Tuesday’s strike action.

On Thursday, Premier Dalton McGuinty saad his government won’t put a stop to any legal, one-day teacher strikes – a position that has Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives claiming the government has lost control of the situation.

McGuinty made his comments in a statement issued regarding Monday’s scheduled one-day strikes in Huron-Perth and northern Ontario, as well as the possibility of other similar actions elsewhere in Ontario in the coming days.

McGuinty said he’s “disappointed,” adding strike action places students “squarely in the middle of a dispute” between the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the government.

“(It’s a) dispute that we believe ETFO should pursue in the courts against the government, not in our classrooms against our students.”

Despite the “inconvenience” the government will not intervene at this point, he said.

“I understand this will be an inconvenience for parents as they make special arrangements, and it is regrettable for students to miss any time learning, even a day. However, a legal one-day strike action does not warrant the government’s intervention,” said McGuinty.

“It is worth noting that while students will miss an entire day of class, and teachers will spend one entire day on the picket line, and lawyers will spend weeks preparing their case, ETFO leadership have spent less than an hour in the last ten months at the negotiating table, which I continue to believe is the best place to resolve the issue.”

Niagara’s public elementary teachers have been in a legal strike position since Dec. 1. Union members began a work-to-rule campaign on Monday.

Bill 115: Putting Students First Act gives time for local bargaining to continue until Dec. 31, to allow school boards and local unions to conclude local collective agreements.

Bill 115 was passed with the help of opposition leader Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives, who stood with the government members despite claiming the legislation as not going far enough.

Hudak said Thursday he can’t believe the premier and education minister are unprepared to use their powers to threaten sanctions

Tim Hudak.

against union leaders in the event of a strike.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hudak. “Who’s running the province of Ontario? I mean, is there any government in this province?”

AUDIO: Listen to Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak’s comments

Hudak said strikes will disrupt learning and cause headaches for parents, especially those whose jobs will force them to scramble to find alternative care for their children during a walkout.

“Every minute, every dollar spent on getting a babysitter or daycare, that’s on the Ontario Liberals’ heads,” said Hudak.

“They (the Liberals) had an opportunity to stop these strikes, they have run away from their responsibilities. This is clearly the Ontario Liberals putting their own interests ahead of the interests of moms and dads and students in this province.”

Bill 115 has caused a serious rift inside the Liberal party, which seems to be growing now that there’s a seven-way race to replace McGuinty as Liberal leader and premier.

Ontario’s New Democratic Party opposed Bill 115.

On Thursday, NDP education critic Peter Tabuns said the Liberals owe parents an “apology”, blaming their “reckless and

Peter Tabuns.

unconsitutional” legislation for the current turmoil.

Tabuns suggested the government has lost control of the situation.

“This government clearly doesn’t have a plan anymore,” Tabuns said in a statement.

“Instead of making an effort to reach an agreement that would benefit parents, kids and teachers the McGuinty Liberals came up with a shortsighted scheme in a desperate attempt to win a by-election. Now parents and students are paying the price.”

Tabuns continued: “The McGuinty government’s plan has blown up in their faces and it’s hitting families the hardest. It’s time for a respectful conversation that leads to a real agreement.”

~ Files from Peter Conradi, Bullet News Niagara

Written by on December 7, 2012 in Communities, Public School, Uncategorized - 1 Comment

One Comment on "Government won’t interfere with one-day teacher strikes"

  1. Ann December 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm · Reply

    It’s about time the opposition came out with some straight talk on just how badly the gov’t has managed this, seeing as how both the PCs and NDP felt the wrath of the teacher unions themselves.
    Then again, I get the sense that the general public is pretty much fed up with the blame game all politicians play.
    Are we to assume that both the PC and NDP would do anything differently? Not by their statements at least.

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