OSSTF to hold one-day strike at select boards

Striking high school teachers at London Central Secondary School, December 4, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

A second one-day strike has been scheduled by the union representing Ontario’s public secondary school teachers, but this time it will only involve teachers and education workers at select school boards.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced on Friday that if a deal isn’t reached with the Ford government, its members within nine different school boards will walk off the job on Wednesday.

The one-day full withdrawal of services will happen within the following school boards:

• Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
• Grand Erie District School Board
• Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board
• Near North District School Board
• Rainy River District School Board
• Simcoe County District School Board
• Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
• Toronto District School Board
• Trillium Lakelands District School Board

All other public secondary school teachers across the province will hold information pickets in front of schools, MPPs’ offices, and other locations, the union said.

OSSTF’s roughly 60,000 members held a province-wide one-day strike this past Wednesday as contract talks with the province hit a virtual standstill. The move saw public school boards leave their facilities closed for the day out of concern for student safety due to a lack of supervision.

Secondary school teachers have also been engaged in a work-to-rule campaign since November 26.

The OSSTF has said class sizes, staffing, mandatory e-learning, and other issues that affect the quality of student learning have been sticking points throughout contract negotiations with the province.

“We are disappointed and mystified at the government’s apparent indifference to the legitimate and well-documented concerns of parents, students, and educators alike. Owing to that indifference, our efforts at the bargaining table and our job actions to this point have yielded virtually no progress. We have no choice but to continue our efforts,” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said in a statement. “We absolutely understand that our targeted job actions create a temporary disruption for the students and families affected. By contrast, the Doug Ford agenda, if it is allowed to be implemented, will create long-term disruption for students across the entire education system, and leave publicly-funded education in Ontario deeply and permanently damaged.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has accused the union of not making a substantive move for over 200 days of bargaining, aside from insisting on a $1.5 billion increase in pay and benefits.

-With files from Kirk Dickinson