Ontario teacher walkouts set for more school districts next week

A classroom at Sir John A. Macdonald School in Belleville, Ont. sits empty Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012...

A classroom at Sir John A. Macdonald School in Belleville, Ont. sits empty Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 on the eve of teachers' job action. (Luke Hendry/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

OTTAWA - A day after Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten announced she would allow one-day elementary teacher strikes in two Ontario school boards, other districts promised to keep the protest rolling next week.

On Friday, sticking to their vow of giving 72 hours notice of any strike, teachers with the Niagara and the Keewatin-Patricia school boards gave notice they plan to be off the job Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the protest moves to Hastings and Prince Edward district, as well as Ottawa-Carleton, where about 48,000 elementary school students will walk out for the day.

Ottawa teachers say they plan to picket at schools across the city and the constituency offices of MPPs throughout the day.

Ottawa Elementary Teachers Federation Ontario president Peter Giuliani said they chose to give more than 72 hours notice - what they'd originally promised - to give more time for parents to make other arrangements.

"We're erring on the side of caution," he said. "We wanted to give parents three business days to make preparations."

The one-day strike is part of an ongoing campaign by teachers' unions battling the Putting Students First Act, which freezes teachers' wages, cuts some of their benefits and sets a deadline of Dec. 31 for unions to reach collective bargaining agreements.

The province can then impose its own agreement on the unions if they don't reach a deal in time for the deadline.

The elementary teachers union said there will be rotating one-day strikes in every board across the province before Christmas.

The first round of walkouts are happening in school boards in the Avon Maitland District and Ontario North East District on Monday before shifting to boards across Ontario.

On Thursday, Education Minister Laurel Broten said she wouldn't interfere with the union's legal right to launch one-day strikes but that she'd step in if the union walked out for more than a day or twice in the same board.

Broten has the power under the Act to force teachers back to work.

Even after wrapping up the one-day walkouts, the teachers said they will continue to work-to-rule, meaning teachers won't perform school volunteer activities during school hours.

"My hope is that we keep everybody safe," Sharon Aloian, president of the Niagara teachers federation, said. "And everybody understands that this regrettable action is really to stand up for the democratic rights of all people."

- with files from Mike Aubry and Don Fraser

 


Photos