Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday May 26, 2015
Wynne Government imposes back-to-work legislation on striking teachers
The Ontario government will be tabling back-to-work legislation today for striking secondary school teachers, but since New Democrats won’t be supporting it, students will be kept from class a few more days.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her party won’t support the Liberals’ motion for unanimous consent to get it passed today, but the government could use its majority to pass it by Thursday.
That would mean more than 70,000 students in the Sudbury-area Rainbow District, Peel Region and Durham Region, who have been kept from class for up to five weeks, would return to school on Friday at the earliest.
The back-to-work legislation is being introduced after the Education Relations Commission ruled that strikes by high school teachers in three boards are putting students’ school years in jeopardy.
Education Minister Liz Sandals says she respects the collective bargaining process, but it’s important to get kids back to class to complete their school years.
While the striking secondary teachers in three boards are set to be legislated back to work, their central union said this weekend that talks with the provincial government have reached an impasse.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation plans to apply to the provincial labour ministry for conciliation — the teachers must first use the government third-party assistance to try to reach a contract before they can take provincewide strike action.
The Ontario Labour Relations Board had also been set to rule on whether the three local strikes were illegal.
This is the first round of negotiations under a new bargaining system the Liberal government introduced last year, separating the process into local and central talks. The school boards argued that the three local strikes were really on central issues such as class sizes. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)