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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Government is Undermining Democratic Rights of Ontarians, Say Teachers

International Human Rights Day December 10, 2012 - Sorry Day for Ontario

As countries around the world celebrated International Human Rights Day December 10, 2012, Ontario public elementary teachers and education professionals were forced into one-day strikes starting to protest the loss of their fundamental rights. December 14, Citry of Kawartha Lakes Elementary School teachers joined the rotating one day strikes. ollective agreements for all ETFO locals expired on August 31, 2012. Since then, ETFO members have been working without collective agreements in place.   What is this series of Ontario Elementary teacher strikes all about?
"The education sector's response to Bill 115 is not about a wage freeze or pause in salaries. This strike action is about the government's unprecedented interference in the right to collectively bargain, a legal right provided for all people under Ontario law."

Teachers Striking To Preserve Democratic Rights for All 

Bill 115 gives the Ontario education minister unprecedented powers to impose collective agreements on school boards and locals, removing autonomy from boards and ETFO locals that want to find fair, respectful solutions. The bill not only puts the minister above the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Ontario Labour Relations Act, it allows no judicial appeal in provincial courts –a tactic rarely if ever used in democracies.
"In democratic votes earlier this fall, teachers, occasional teachers, designated early childhood educators, professional support personnel, and educational support personnel voted overwhelmingly for strike action if warranted to protest the loss of their rights resulting from Bill 115," Hammond adds, "It is a sorry day for democracy in Ontario when educators are forced to strike because this government thinks nothing of trampling on their fundamental rights. Ontarians need to ask themselves –if this can happen to teachers, then who is next?

Will Rotating Ontario Teacher Strikes Continue? 

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) will cease rotating strikes, and take no new strike action, if Ontario’s education minister does not impose collective agreements after December 31st under Bill 115. The offer extends until a new premier is put in place at the Liberal Party convention in late January.
 “The appointment of a new premier will provide an opportunity to take a fresh look at the current collective bargaining impasse and find respectful solutions,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond at a media conference today. “Our proposal respects existing collective bargaining processes and the fundamental rights of our members and all working Ontarians. If the minister decides to take precipitous action and trigger further disruption, this will aggravate the situation for parents, students, and our members.”

Education Minister's Actions Wil Determine Future One Day Strikes

While Bill 115 gives the education minister unprecedented powers to impose collective agreements on school boards and locals after December 31, 2012 and prohibit legal strike action;  there is nothing in the bill that requires her to exercise those powers.
“Education Minister Laurel Broten and her government must recognize that Bill 115 is a dangerous piece of legislation. It threatens the very foundations of Ontario’s democratic values and institutions. It is wrong, and the education sector has called the government to task for it with our job actions this fall.”
About The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario:
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

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