Local ETFO members engage in province-wide job action

Lambton-Kent District School Board elementary teachers on the picket lines - Feb 6/20 (Blackburnnews.com photo by Josh Boyce)

Elementary teachers with the Lambton-Kent District School Board were on the picket lines again Thursday, as the union conducted its first province-wide strike.

The job action by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) includes 83,000 educators across the province backing their contract demands.

High Park Teacher Nicole Schultz stressed it isn’t all about money. Ongoing issues include the protection of full day kindergarten, mandatory e-learning, and reversing cuts to education.

“We are on day three here locally, and we know we’re here for the right reasons,” said Schultz. “People and the government are saying that it’s for the money. It’s obviously not just about money. We’re on day three and we’re losing more than we would otherwise.”

Schultz doesn’t believe a deal is close.

“There are no dates as of yet. We know that the government has pre-paid parents for daycare for next week’s strikes. So, that’s a big indicator that they have no intention of sitting down at the table with us at this point. It’s really unfortunate.”

ETFO’s rotating strikes will impact the Lambton-Kent District School Board again on Monday, February 10. Another province-wide strike is planned on Tuesday, February 11 if a deal isn’t reached.

The province is currently involved in tense contract talks with all four of Ontario’s major teacher unions, all of which are engaged in some form of job action, including work-to-rule campaigns.

A deal between ETFO and the province was apparently close last week, but talks broke off late Friday.

Meanwhile, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) is stepping up its administrative job action next week.

The union says beginning Tuesday, February 11, its 45,000 members will only undertake their scheduled teaching and supervision duties. Teachers will not accept any additional tasks or assignments, but will continue to participate in extra-curricular activities.

OECTA started administrative job action on January 13 and fully withdrew services on January 21, to protest stalled contract talks with the province.

The union represents 790 permanent and occasional teachers with the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.