Hamilton public high school teachers are gearing up for job action, while teachers in other Ontario boards begin strike measures.
“We're in a legal strike position as of [Nov. 19], so our job action will begin as of that day," Chantal Mancini, president of the Ontario Secondary Teachers Federation (OSSTF) district 21 teachers bargaining unit, said on Monday.
Her comments came just hours after Ken Coran, president of the provincial OSSTF, said talks with the province have failed to reach an agreement. As a result, OSSTF members at 20 school boards across the province began job action on Monday. Hamilton was not one of them.
The sanctions were to begin last week, but were postponed for five days to give talks with the McGuinty government one last shot.
The press release Coran sent doesn't specify what sanctions teachers will impose. However, they could withdraw from extracurricular activities such as coaching, suspend parent-teacher meetings, and stop submitting student attendance records.
Hamilton teachers will be taking similar measures, Mancini said.
“We'll be taking the the types of actions [the provincial OSSTF] has outlined, focusing on admistrative duties and having the least impact on students as possible,” she said.
Mancini said her local is still open to negotiating with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), but added no talks are currently planned.
“As far as our board is concerned, we're not impacted until Nov. 19," said Tim Simmons, chair of the HWDSB. “In the meantime it's still business as usual, and we'll work as best we can to create a healthy learning environment for our students.”
The OSSTF represents 60,000 members and is among three unions protesting the debt-ridden government's new anti-strike law. It also represents elementary and secondary school support staff.
The law also cuts benefits, freezes the wages of most union members, and allows the province to impose its own agreement if it doesn't like what the unions and school boards negotiate.
Unions are taking the government to court, arguing the law is unconstitutional and violates collective bargaining rights.
With files from the Canadian Press