May 21, 2015
By Andy Johnson
High school teachers in Halton Region and Ottawa begin an administrative strike today adding to the educational woes of more than 70,000 Ontario secondary school students. The teachers will partially withdraw services; meaning they won’t add comments to report cards or attend staff meetings or school board meetings and will hold some picket lines over the lunch hour. However, regular school operations will continue, as will field trips and extracurricular activities.
Meantime, the clarity of the Liberal government’s new School Boards Collective Bargaining Act is under fire at the Ontario Labour Relations Board. That’s where three other Ontario school boards, are trying to have the high school teachers’ strikes ruled illegal. Durham, Peel and Sudbury area school boards suggest that while the law doesn’t explicitly ban local strikes on provincial issues, that is its intent. The strikes come during the first round of bargaining since the new process was passed last year, separating negotiations into local and central talks. The school boards allege the three local strikes are really about central issues, such as class sizes. A school board lawyer says the key sections of the act make distinctions between local and central processes so the law would be a “a mockery of itself” if it were to allow employees to start hopping the fence on strikes.