A Hamilton teachers’ union leader says her members are “disappointed and disgusted” by proposed legislation that would freeze teachers’ wages.
“We will challenge [the legislation] all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary,” said Lisa Hammond, president of the Hamilton-Wentworth branch of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).
Her comments follow an announcement Friday by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak that his party will support the passing of the controversial bill that would impose contracts on teachers.
The legislation is to be introduced next week.
"The bill’s going to pass,” Hudak told a news conference on Friday at Queen’s Park.
Public teachers’ unions across the province are planning to rally outside of Queen’s Park Tuesday to express their opposition to the government’s legislation plan.
“There’s no need for legislation,” said Chantal Mancini, president of the teachers bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) district 21. “It’s too bad that Hudak has decided to pair up with McGuinty.”
Her members are feeling demoralized and upset that they will be going back to work under conditions they did not agree to, she said in an interview with CBC Hamilton following Hudak’s announcement. But there will be no job action, she said.
Instead, the OSSTF and public teachers’ unions will continue their plan to oppose the government through the court system.
The teachers’ frustrations won’t affect the beginning of the school year, she said.
“We’re not in a strike position,” said Hammond. “We haven’t even gone into bargaining yet.”
Paul Miller, NDP MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek said he thinks Hudak’s announcement is “politically smart.”
Miller sees the Tories’ decision to back the Liberals as a tactic to win byelections in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan areas.
“The Conservatives will go back to their anti-McGuinty stance [after the byelections],” he said.
The Liberals are similarly forcing the legislation to try to swing byelection votes in their favour as well, he said.
“[Premier Dalton McGuinty] thinks that by giving half a story he’ll convince the entire public that what he’s doing is right. But it’s not the whole story,” Miller said.