ETFO requests conciliator as talks reach standstill

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / oksun70

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has requested a conciliation officer, saying talks with the province are at “a virtual standstill.”

Two central bargaining groups, the ETFO Teacher/Occasional Teachers and the ETFO Education Workers, have been in talks with the province since June.

“ETFO’s goal is to reach fair agreements for our members that also enhance learning conditions for Ontario’s elementary students,” ETFO President Sam Hammond said in a news release issued Thursday. “These are achievable goals, and ETFO will do everything it can to reach them. That includes participating in the legal steps of the collective bargaining process, like conciliation and taking strike votes.”

Strike vote meetings have been held throughout the province since the end of September. The results are expected in early November.

The ETFO claimed the government is seeking cuts of 2.5 per cent in overall education sector spending.

“Government representatives at the bargaining table have been asked, point-blank, whether the Ford government intends to make funding cuts to elementary education in 2020. All we are getting are evasive non-answers. That is completely unacceptable,” said Hammond.

As laid out in the Ontario Labour Relations Act, any party may request a conciliator at any point during negotiations. A conciliation officer will now meet with ETFO and school board bargaining agencies to try to help reach central agreements.

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers, and education professionals across the province.