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ETFO, Wynne to meet after union threatens to step up job action

The union representing Ontario’s elementary school teachers will meet with the premier on Friday morning, the day after it announced its members will stop supervising all extra-curricular activities in schools starting next week.

Elementary teachers set to stop 'all voluntary extracurricular activities' next week

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, says elementary teachers will continue their strike action until the Ontario Public School Boards' Association and the provincial government come to the bargaining table. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The union representing Ontario's elementary school teachers will meet with the premier on Friday morning, the day after it announced its members will stop supervising all extra-curricular activities in schools starting next week.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) will be joined at the meeting by two other unions representing teaching support workers, as well as representatives from school board associations. Education Minister Liz Sandals is also expected to be present at the meeting that will focus on the ongoing labour negotiations between the two sides.

Negotiations have stalled in recent weeks, with ETFO alleging the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) and the provincial government have failed to respond to efforts to return to central bargaining. 

"If OPSBA and the government want a deal, why are they not responding to our efforts to resume bargaining?  Why are they not back at the bargaining table with us?" said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a statement released on Thursday.

"Our members do not undertake this escalation of strike action lightly, but they understand that reaching a fair and reasonable agreement will not happen unless OPSBA and the government are present at the bargaining table."

The union says the 78,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals it represents have been without a contract since August 2014. 

The government has reached deals with the other major teachers' unions, but not ETFO.

Sandals said Wednesday that the government has been available to bargain and ready to go back to the table. But the elementary teachers say the government and the school board association have "ignored all attempts" by the union to get them to return to bargaining, including an offer to refer one issue to binding arbitration.

The teachers were already staging a work-to-rule campaign that included no parent-teacher meetings and no class trips, but had warned they would expand it further if there was no bargaining progress.

With files from The Canadian Press

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