Friday, January 11, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday, January 11, 2013

About-face in teachers’ walkout

An Ontario labour board ruling that declared a planned walkout by the province’s elementary teachers an “unlawful strike” came too late for most parents who spent the morning in confusion.

Parents in the Greater Toronto Area and elsewhere across the province went to bed Thursday night being told that schools would be closed, regardless of how the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled. But they woke to find that everything had changed, leading to a morning of confusion in which they tried to decide to go ahead with the childcare they had arranged or send their kids to class.

The OLRB didn’t make its ruling until 4 a.m., deciding that any move to protest during normal school hours Friday would be considered “unlawful.” That resulted in Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario President Sam Hammond grudgingly saying teachers should show up for work, as law-abiding citizens.

The problem was, parents who weren’t glued to their radios or TVs Friday morning didn’t get the memo, and many took the day off or took their kids to daycare providers anyway. Even among those schools that were opened, most classrooms were only partly full.

The Toronto District School Board said about half of students were absent from classes Friday, noting that the absence wouldn’t be counted against their record due to the confusion. The board compared attendance numbers to those of an overly-snowy day. (Source: CTV News)