The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario says teachers will not stage a planned walkout today.

EFTO president Sam Hammond made the announcement moments after the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled that the planned walkout would be illegal.


Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, addresses reporters early on Friday morning to call off a planned one-day strike, minutes after a labour board ruling deemed the walkout illegal. (Tony Smyth)

Hammond said the union respects the decision and that teachers would be asked not to stage the one-day protest.

The OLRB decision came just a few hours before thousands of educators were due to stage a one-day walkout in protest of the governing Liberals' decision to impose two-year contracts on tens of thousands of public elementary and secondary teachers, powers afforded to the province by the controversial Bill 115.

"I know this has been a difficult time for parents, students and teachers," Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten said in statement on Friday morning. "I know there has been confusion and that there still is. But the OLRB’s decision clears up some of that confusion and misinformation."

Lisa Hammond, president of ETFO's Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher local, also responded to the ruling on Friday morning.

"I'm obviously very angry that the government put us in this position," she said. "They put in Bill 115 to alter the rules under the labour board, and used the labour board to stop us from protesting."

The ruling, she added, is "not going to stop us from protesting.

"It has changed the way we're going to protest, but in the next little while, we'll be planning our next steps."

Broten: 'We expect teachers to be in their classrooms'

"We expect teachers to be in their classrooms this morning to continue the important work they do every day."

Early Friday morning the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board sent out an email letting the public know that schools will be open and teachers will be teaching Friday.

The press release stated "The provincial government has been granted a cease and desist order from the Ontario Labour Relations Board to prevent elementary teachers from being off work today to participate in a day of protest."

The HWDSB also announced that all buses will be running.

The OLRB ruling also caused the Ontario Seconday School Teachers' Federation to scuttle its plans for a walkout on Jan 16.

McGuinty: 'A strike on Friday would be an illegal strike'

The province filed a complaint to the OLRB after the ETFO sent out a press release declaring its members would stage a "day of political action" on Friday.

Premier Dalton McGuinty warned Ontario’s public school teachers Wednesday that planned one-day walkouts would constitute "illegal" strikes

"A strike on Friday would be an illegal strike," McGuinty said.

"I know teachers are law-abiding. I know they do not want to break the law. And I am urging them not to."

The premier said it is the government’s "full expectation that teachers will be in school on Friday and every day in keeping with their employment obligations."