Teachers ponder boycott of extra work
Final vote on anti-strike legislation at Queen's Park today, expected to pass
The union representing public elementary school teachers in Ontario is urging members to "take a pause" on extra-curricular work after anti-strike legislation passed today.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) also said it is urging teachers to not participate in school-based or system-level meetings on Mondays, and dubbed the protest "McGuinty Mondays."
Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government passed Bill 115 on Tuesday with help from the Progressive Conservatives. It passed by a vote of 82 to 15.
The bill forces new contracts on the majority of teachers and education workers in the province in an effort to help eliminate Ontario's $15-billion deficit.
The legislation also imposes unpaid days off and halves the number of sick days teachers may take, to 10 per year.
In a statement, ETFO president Sam Hammond said the pause in voluntary activities and introduction of McGuinty Mondays are the initial steps in an escalating protest strategy.
"We do not take this action lightly. Ontarians and the government need to know that you cannot take away the democratic rights of working people simply to fulfill a political party’s agenda or ideology," he said in a statement.
Secondary school teachers plan Wednesday protest
Teachers' unions are not in a legal position to adopt a work-to-rule campaign, but the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, Ken Coran, had said on Monday individual teachers have decided to express their frustration on Wednesday.
"A number of our members have made the individual decision not to participate in extra-curriculars … just to indicate the level of discontent," said Coran.
Peter Giuliani, president of the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teacher's Federation, said some teachers are considering their options, such as whether or not they want to continue running a student club or organize fundraising events.
Teachers could also decide to wear a black armband to protest the legislation, which the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has also called "unconstitutional" and "undemocratic."
"We tell our members, 'You make a personal decision about what it is you want to do on a daily basis, you meet your professional obligations ... everything else, it's a personal choice,'" said Giuliani.
English Catholic and francophone teachers have already agreed to the new deal.