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One-day walkout on the way for local teachers

By Keenan Weaver

Teachers in Belleville are expected to join the rest of the province in stopping all voluntary activities as of Monday, December 10, according to local ETFO president Karen Fisk.

Some elementary teachers have been doing this on their own to show their support against Bill 115, but now it’s part of a union wide movement.

Two school boards have planned a one-day walkout for Monday as a political protest, and have said publically it will only last one day.

Fisk, representing the local Elementary Teachers Foundation of Ontario, said their teachers have also planned a walkout, but can’t yet say when it will be.

She said the union is “accessing our legal rights” to political protest, and will be “in a legal strike position on Monday.”

Minister of Education Laurel Broten spoke at a press conference Thursday morning, and said the issues at hand will be resolved in courts, not in the classrooms.

She said Monday’s job action would make it clear that nothing has changed, bringing notice to the province’s $14 billion deficit.

“Teachers still need to take a two year pay freeze to protect full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes and 10,000 teaching positions,” she said.

Broten said the school boards taking action on Monday, Avon Maitland and Ontario North East District School Boards, have publicly stated the walkout will last only one day.

ETFO leadership said rotating strikes will be for one day, with 72 hours notice so schools and parents can plan ahead.

“If ETFO strike action moves beyond one day, we will assess if it compromises student success and causes havoc for parents,” Broten said.

This is a reaction to legislation – Bill 115 – that passed in September that cuts teacher benefits and takes away their ability to discuss it with government.