Teachers at Windsor-Essex public board schools to take part in one-day strike on Wednesday
WINDSOR -- Teachers and education workers with the Greater Essex County District School Board will take part in a one-day strike on Wednesday.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation employees in certain school boards, including GECDSB, will take part in the strike, including a full withdrawal of services, unless a tentative deal is reached.
The strike will likely see the closure of Windsor-Essex public schools on Jan. 8. It is the fourth one-day strike in the province, but only the second walkout for the GECDSB workers.
During the last one-day walkout in Windsor-Essex on Dec. 4, both high school and elementary schools were closed. CTV News has reached out to the board to see if they will all be impacted this time. Union officials say both high schools and elementary schools will be impacted.
There are 36,000 students across the public board in Windsor-Essex.
Kristen Garrett-Spanswick, educational support staff bargaining unit president and OSSTF District 9 vice president, says “although the secondary teachers and occasional teachers are part of OSSTF and District 9, educational support staff do represent students from JK all the way to Grade 12 that have special needs so, that will have an impact on all levels of education in Greater Essex.”
“I think it’s important that the public continue to understand that OSSTF members across the province are fighting to protect public education and our place in it,” adds Garrett-Spanswick.
Garrett-Spanswick points to a lack of progress at the bargaining table since the two sides last held negotiations on Dec. 16 as a key reason for the union’s continued labour action.
“There hasn’t been very much movement by the government at the table. They haven’t been having serious discussions,” says Garrett-Spanswick.
Also on Wednesday, OSSTF/FEESO members in other school boards will hold information pickets in front of schools, at MPPs’ offices, and in other locations throughout the entire province.
“After more than eight months of negotiations, the Minister of Education is still committed to the Doug Ford agenda of larger class sizes, mandatory e-learning, and the ongoing erosion of crucial supports and services our most vulnerable students rely on for an equitable chance to succeed,” said OSSTF president Harvey Bischof.
A limited withdrawal of services, which began on Nov. 26, 2019, will continue province-wide.
“Our job action next Wednesday will affect some school boards for one day, but the Ford government’s policies, if we are not able to reverse them, will continue to create chaos in the education system for years to come,” adds Bischof. “Ontario students deserve better, and that is exactly what we’re fighting for.”
Education Minister Responds
Ontario's education minister, Stephen Lecce, issued a statement following the OSSTF's labour action announcement.
Lecce maintains the government's position, arguing the union is pushing for a lucrative pay raise.
"Parents have been clear: strikes by unions hurt kids and investments should go to support student success, not towards enhanced compensation," says Lecce in his statement.
"We agree with Ontario parents," coninues Lecce. "This is why we will continue to vigorously champion the interests of students and seek stability for parents in 2020, who are frustrated and tired of the union-led escalation that began in 2019. This continued strike action is unfair to students and their families."
There aren't any new negotiations that have been announced by either side since talks broke off on Dec. 16.