All English Catholic school teachers set to strike next Tuesday

Members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association picket outside (January 21, 2020). (Photo by Maureen Revait)

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association is planning a second one-day walkout at all English Catholic school boards across Ontario.

Teachers will walk off the job Tuesday, February 4.

“We know Ontarians are growing impatient with these negotiations. Frankly, we share their frustration,” said Liz Stuart, the president of OECTA. “Strike action is tough for everyone, but it is a sacrifice we need to make to show the government we will not be deterred in our efforts to protect what we have worked so hard to build.”

The last one-day strike by those teachers was on January 21.

The union had a bargaining date with negotiators from the Ministry of Education on January 9, but talks have since stalled.

“Minister Lecce keeps talking about private mediation, but this is further evidence of how out-of-touch he is with the bargaining process,” continued Stuart. “We already have a highly-respected Ministry of Labour-appointed conciliator helping our discussions. She has said we currently remain too far apart on the key issues to make negotiations worthwhile.”

Those issues include class sizes. While the Ford government has relented to a degree, the teachers’ unions said it is not enough to address their concerns. The unions also demand more support in the classroom for special needs students, an end to education funding cuts, and action on school violence.

Minister Stephen Lecce and Premier Doug Ford have repeatedly said the province could not afford to give teachers a two per cent wage increase. Ford recently said his government could only offer one per cent, but the unions said their complaints have nothing to do with wages.

“As far back as October, we have been making creative and forward-thinking proposals that should have satisfied all parties. But the government’s negotiators have refused to move,” added Stuart.

Meanwhile, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario is continuing its rotating one-day strikes.

Public elementary school teachers across the province will walk off the job on Thursday, February 6.

At the Greater Essex County District School Board, additional one-day strikes are this Wednesday and Friday, February 7.

Public elementary schools in the Lambton-Kent District School Board close this Thursday, January 30 and Tuesday, February 4, while the Thames Valley District School Board will be targeted on Tuesday, February 4.