DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: After running a work to rule campaign, high school teachers and education workers in North Durham and Kawartha Lakes will hold strike action if they do not reach a deal before Wednesday. On Thursday, November 28th, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced the teachers and education workers their union represents will withdraw their services and participate in a one-day province wide strike on Wednesday, December 4th, unless the province and the union come to an agreement before then. This could lead to all DDSB secondary schools closing that day, for one day. The OSSTF previously began a work to rule campaign on Tuesday, November 26th, but found it not to be as effective as they’d hoped. “This week we began a job action carefully devised to have no impact on students,” OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said, in a press release. “It’s clear from these past two days of bargaining, however, that our action is having no impact on the tone or substance of negotiations. Through months of bargaining, the management team has avoided any meaningful discussion of class size, staffing, mandatory e-learning, or any other issue that impacts the quality of student learning.” His statement addressed the impact this action will have for students. “We do recognize that our one-day walkout will cause short-term disruption in the lives of students and parents, and we are disappointed that we’ve been driven to take this job action. We cannot, however, stand aside and do nothing while the long-term interests of students are being compromised,” Mr. Bischof said. However, in a statement, Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce put the blame on the teachers’ union. “Strikes hurt kids. Our Government has been clear, we want deals that keep students in class. For teacher unions to leave the table, to turn their back on our children, and to escalate to the point of compromising their education, is deeply troubling for parents and our Government. Our Government has demonstrated consistently it is reasonable and student-centric by making major moves that have not been matched or reciprocated by the teachers’ unions,” Mr. Lecce said. OSSTF District 13 (Durham) President Lamia Sabbagh told The Standard teachers in Ontario all “want to be in the classroom” but, it would “be a disservice” not to stand up for students through these negotiations. “The government is trying to save money on the backs of these students, and we are the ones saying that is not right,” Ms. Sabbagh explained, stating the union is concerned about the cuts to education the provincial government has been making.