By Chad Ingram
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario is requesting that the Ministry of Labour appoint a conciliation officer to assist with bargaining between the union and the provincial government.
According to the union while bargaining talks had proceeded through July and August they have been at an effective standstill since that time with previous collective agreements expiring on Aug. 31. “We believe the reason why the talks are now stalled is because of the proposed cuts” Karen Bratina ETFO president for Trillium Lakelands District School Board told the Times . “The government is demanding that we the ETFO teachers take $150 million in collective bargaining strips.”
Bratina said it’s not clear exactly where those cuts are expected to occur.
“That’s why there’s no progress at the table” she said. “We’re not getting answers in regard to that.”
At the same time however Bratina said the government is not committed to continuing full-day kindergarten and she said there is some understanding that perhaps that’s where the provincial government is expecting to find financial savings.
In a press release ETFO president Sam Hammond said the union is getting non-answers from the Ford government.
“Government representatives at the bargaining table have been asked point blank whether the Ford government intends to make funding cuts to elementary education in 2020” Hammond said in the release. “All we are getting are evasive non-answers. That is completely unacceptable.”
The Ford government has expressed that it is looking to reduce overall education spending by 2.5 per cent.
A strike vote was held by local ETFO members in Lindsay on the evening of Wednesday Oct. 16 and Bratina said there was a good
turnout with some 650 members attending. The results of that vote as well as strike votes from other ETFO locals across the
province will not be known until early November. While Bratina was not aware of the local result she told the paper she was
confident that the majority of members would have given a very strong mandate.
Even with the stall with high-level talks Bratina said she is still able to proceed with local bargaining and will be working on
preparing a preliminary submission in the coming weeks.