Teachers to strike Friday
SIMCOE COUNTY - UPDATED - Elementary teachers in Simcoe County to strike on Friday Dec. 14.
SIMCOE COUNTY - Students of elementary public schools in Simcoe County are gearing up for an unexpected long weekend.
Elementary teachers will be staging a one-day strike Friday, Dec. 14, and the Simcoe County District School Board will close elementary schools.
Board chairperson Robert North, said he was informed about the strike in writing at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The strike also affects occasional teachers and designated early childhood educators, who typically work in kindergarten classrooms.
School buses will not be running to elementary schools but child-care centres operating in schools will remain open for children already enrolled. Before and after-school programs will not be operating.
In a press release, the board said it “apologizes” for the interruption to student achievement, but it felt closing the schools would protect the safety of students because there wouldn’t be enough supervision for them.
Janet Bigham, president of the Simcoe County Elementary Teachers’ Federation, said most parents should already have an emergency back-up plan in place for their children, for times like Monday when school buses were canceled.
Bigham said teachers would picket outside the schools Friday to send a message to the province.
She said Bill 115 is an unique piece of legislation that strips teachers of their charter rights.
“We’re letting the government know it’s unacceptable to have their democratic right (for collective bargaining) stripped away. Hopefully the government is getting the message it’s not acceptable to pass this legislation in the province,” said Bigham.
High schools will remain open but teachers are enforcing a work-to-rule campaign, foregoing all extra-curricular activities, professional development and staff meetings.
“There has never been a time when there was so much interference from an education minister in local bargaining efforts,” said Bigham. “The loss of local autonomy has forced us into strike action and it is a direct result of this government’s actions.”
Amy Chavis, president of the Simcoe County Occasional Teachers Association said, “Bill 115 has stripped our members of their democratic rights. They are standing up for those rights with this action, regardless of how difficult and inconvenient that may be.”
There are 2,165 elementary teachers, 625 occasional teachers and 179 designated early childhood educators in Simcoe County.
Collective agreements for all Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario locals expired Aug. 31, 2012.
Bigham said parents can help by letting their child’s teacher know they are supportive of the situation, and to call or write their MPP to ask for Bill 115 to be repealed.
Parents and guardians can visit www.scdsb.on.ca for updates on the labour situation between the school board and the two teachers’ unions.
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