Ontario elementary teachers to hold strike vote across province

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Parents of elementary school children are probably bracing for the worst as Ontario elementary teachers are to be asked to vote on a strike mandate at mass meetings held across the province this month and next.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), representing 83,000 public elementary teachers, occasional teachers and educational professionals, will conduct a central strike vote as it discusses bargaining issues with members.

Teachers will be asked to demonstrate support for the union’s bargaining priorities, including more support for students with special needs, smaller class sizes, protection of full-day kindergarten and “fair and transparent” hiring practices.

“ETFO’s goal is to reach an agreement at the central bargaining table without having to take job action,” the union said in a news release on Wednesday.

The vote will be held at information meetings at 76 locals in late September and October.

Contracts for teachers and education workers at the province’s publicly funded schools expired at the end of August.

ETFO and other major education unions have for a while now had a major issue with the been government’s cost-saving initiatives, including recent moves to increase class sizes for Grade 4 and higher, mandate e-learning courses and reduce per-student funding to boards.

Meanwhile for its part the Ontario Conservatives have vowed to do everything to prevent a strike through negotiations.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), represents 55,000 education workers, including custodians, clerical staff and education assistants.

That request starts a 17-day countdown to possible job action across Ontario for education workers at public, Catholic, French and English school boards.

CUPE expects the period to last until the week of September 23, at which point union members will be able to lawfully begin job action. -CINEWS

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