Ontario Catholic Teachers Consider Strike Vote Amidst Negotiation Challenges

STRIKE ACTION - Image depositphotos.com
STRIKE ACTION - Image depositphotos.com

Province-wide Strike Vote Scheduled for October 18-19 by OECTA

Tensions Escalate in Lengthy Bargaining Process

TORONTO – After over a year of intense negotiations with representatives of the Government of Ontario and Catholic school boards, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has officially announced its intent to conduct a province-wide strike vote this coming October.

According to President René Jansen in de Wal, the decision comes after facing numerous hurdles during the bargaining process. “We’ve strived for a fair, negotiated agreement that encompasses the best interests of all students, educators, and families,” he said.

Contrasting Public and Private Narratives

Despite public assurances by Education Minister Stephen Lecce on the government’s commitment to the negotiation process, the reality behind closed doors appears different. Lecce has publicly mentioned that the government remains available for daily negotiations. In contrast, Jansen in de Wal highlights that “Our Association has only had 30 meetings in over 440 days, even though we’ve repeatedly requested more.”

Unsettled Scope and Unilateral Decisions

After nearly 15 months, the scope of the negotiations remains undecided. OECTA claims that their innovative solutions to expedite the process often face rejection without ample explanation or alternate suggestions.

Further complicating matters, OECTA accuses the government of side-stepping the collective bargaining process by implementing Policy/Program Memorandum 168 unilaterally. This policy had been a topic they had initially introduced for negotiation. OECTA has since filed a formal complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Questioning Government’s Commitment to Quality Education

Jansen in de Wal criticizes the Ford Conservative government’s approach to public education. He emphasizes that the government’s actions, including reducing per-pupil funding and not matching budgetary needs to inflation rates, severely impact the quality of education. “Actions speak louder than words,” he remarked, indicating the government’s lack of sincere commitment to achieving a fair deal.

Solidarity and the Way Forward

To showcase their resolve, OECTA finds it pivotal to conduct the strike vote. “We aim to rally Catholic teachers, highlighting our unity and determination to uphold the standard of Ontario’s publicly funded education,” says Jansen in de Wal.

Despite the looming strike vote, OECTA maintains that bargaining will continue. The Association remains hopeful in reaching a fair collective agreement that appreciates Catholic teachers’ immense contribution to Ontario and ensures a robust investment in the future of education.

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