Strikes close area schools

Teachers with ETFO and OSSTF on the picket lines - Feb 4/20 (Blackburnnews.com photo by Josh Boyce)

There’s no class on Tuesday for most students across Sarnia-Lambton.

Members with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), and Elementary Teachers Federation (ETFO) are conducting rotating one-day strikes.

Ten boards across the province are participating in Tuesday’s strike, including the Lambton-Kent District School Board. Locally, they’re picketing outside of the school board office on Wellington Street.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) is holding a province-wide strike, with local teachers striking outside of St. Patrick’s High School.

OECTA Local Unit President Chad Coene said they’re still trying to negotiate a fair deal. Issues include protecting full-day kindergarten, mandatory e-learning, and reversing cuts to education.

“There was a bit of a bright spot on Monday, at least at the start of the day,” said Coene. “The conciliator brought both sides back to the table but, unfortunately, a deal wasn’t reached and that’s why we’re out here still. I’m told they had respectful bargaining throughout the course of the day, but they didn’t get close enough for the mediator to bring both parties back in today, so again we’re at a bit of a stalemate.”

Errol Road Teacher Stefan Jackson said he’s disappointed that talks have broken down between ETFO and the province.

The two sides met on Friday with no significant progress.

“It’s disappointing because we met for three days in a row and thought we were making some headway, that seemed like a positive thing,” said Jackson. “But, it seems to have fallen apart so we’re back out here on the line again.”

ETFO has planned a province-wide strike again on Thursday, February 6 by all 83,000 members.

Sarnia’s French-language schools, Ecole catholique Saint Thomas-d’Aquin and Ecole catholique Saint-Francois-Xavier, were not affected by Tuesday’s strikes.

-With files from Stephanie Chaves