Ont. English Catholic teachers start work to rule Aug. 20 if no new contract
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, August 17, 2015 4:20PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 17, 2015 10:46PM EDT
BRAMPTON, Ont. -- Premier Kathleen Wynne is more optimistic now than she was a few weeks ago about having a normal return to school this fall, but one teachers' union says it will be working-to-rule if there's no contract.
Ontario's 115,000 teachers are in legal strike positions after being without contracts for a year, and are warning they won't be doing all their normal duties without new agreements when classes resume Sept. 8.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association says talks last week failed to reach a new deal, so its 50,000 members will not participate in any activities that fall outside of their contractual obligations.
Union president Ann Hawkins says the work-to-rule will start Aug. 20 when classes begin at Bishop Belleau Catholic School in Moosonee, and will expand to other schools when students return.
Earlier Monday, Wynne said she was hopeful about reaching new contracts because the four big teachers unions are either back at the bargaining table or have scheduled dates with school boards.
OECTA has four more days of negotiations scheduled starting later this week.
Wynne warned that it will be a "hard few weeks" of negotiating to reach new agreements with the teachers' unions before school resumes.
The Liberal government, fighting a deficit of $11.9 billion, has said there is no money for salary hikes for teachers or anyone else in the public sector, but the unions say workload, preparation time and class size are other issues still to be resolved.
Wynne made her comments at a Brampton high school, where she announced a $46,000 grant for a sports program for youth.
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond said that collective bargaining and negotiations will be discussed heavily as the organization's annual general meeting continues in Toronto.
"Make no mistake, we will defend quality public education in this province," he said during a speech at the first day of the meeting.
"We will defend our members, we will defend our collective agreements."
Hammond, meanwhile, was re-elected president of the union Monday for a fourth term. He has served as ETFO president since 2009.