Elementary teachers ask for high school union's support

Ontario's public elementary school teachers who work with high school teachers want their support and respect of picket lines.

Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario holding rotating one-day strikes

Public elementary school teachers on Monday began rotating one-day strikes across Ontario. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Ontario's public school teachers in a fight with the provincial government are employing different strategies in getting their message across.

The high school teachers are working to rule. They're refusing to do any extracurricular work.

The elementary teachers are staging one-day strikes in selected parts of the province.

The Windsor-Essex region hasn't been been chosen yet but the union promises parents will get three days notice if it is.

Those differing strategies raise an interesting scenario at some schools.

Harrow High School, for example, has students in grades 7-12. Students in grades 7 and 8 are taught by members of ETFO, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

The rest of the students are taught by members members of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation.

Jeff Brosseau, the head of the Windsor chapter of the OSSTF, said it could create an awkward situation if elementary teachers strike.

"It could be a circumstance where the secondary teachers, they may gather, walk a little bit with their elementary colleagues and, with permission, cross the picket line and report into work," he said. "We may also see them using some of their own time to go out there and walk the picket line with their colleagues to show a sign of solidarity."

Brosseau said the situation at Harrow is played out at other schools across Ontario.

Brosseau said he wants the high school teachers to respect pickets if they happen in Windsor-Essex.

"We're all fighting for the same cause," he said.

Public high school teachers in Windsor-Essex on Monday stopped leading extracurricular activities.

The Catholic school board has agreed to a new collective agreement and aren't affected.

Brosseau said public unions are, "keeping each other in the loop." He doesn't see an end in sight.

"As long as this fight is going on we want that stance to continue," he said of job action by both unions.

Brosseau said Bill 115, which outlaws a strike by teachers, is, "being rammed down out throats."

He said the unions have limited options. They can either do nothing or remove activities, he said.

"Doing nothing in light of what is happening is a very bad idea," he said.