ETFO says it accepts Sandals' invitation to resume negotiations
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:47PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 29, 2015 10:33PM EDT
TORONTO -- The union representing elementary teachers in Ontario said Tuesday evening that it was accepting an invitation from the province to resume stalled contract negotiations.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario made the announcement shortly after Education Minister Liz Sandals called on it to return to the bargaining table.
In a public statement, Sandals expressed concern with the union's plan to begin rotating strikes next month and encouraged it to reconsider any planned actions that would disrupt students, teachers and families.
Sandals said the province has reviewed its proposal and previous positions put forward by ETFO since talks came to an impasse, and believes an agreement can be reached "within the parameters of the offer presented to ETFO."
ETFO president Sam Hammond responded to Sandals' comments by saying the teachers' union has been ready to return to the bargaining table for two weeks "to bargain a fair and reasonable collective agreement specific to ETFO members."
Hammond said he was looking to Sandals to confirm where and when negotiations would resume.
Earlier Tuesday, ETFO filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board over what it claimed was the refusal of the government and the Ontario Public School Boards' Association to bargain in good faith.
Sandals' statement was issued a few hours later.
An ETFO spokeswoman said the complaint still stands and will be addressed by the labour relations board in due course.
Relations between elementary teachers and the province have been tense for weeks.
Last week, elementary teachers escalated their work-to-rule campaign and threatened rotating one-day strikes as the government urged them to accept deals similar to those that had worked for their colleagues in high schools and the Catholic system.
The two other large teachers' unions voted to approve agreements that included a one per cent bonus and a 1.5 per cent pay increase, while the union representing teachers in Francophone schools also reached a tentative contract.
As part of its work-to-rule campaign, ETFO said its members would not take part in parent-teacher meetings or class trips and not fill in for absent colleagues. The union also warned it would start one-day rotating strikes within two weeks if there's still no deal.