Teachers pressure province as elementary kids stay home across TVDSB
LONDON, ONT -- Students stayed home as public elementary teachers in the London region were walking the picket lines Wednesday.
Educators from across the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB)centralized their picket lines at 20 school sites in the region.
Along Bradley Avenue in London, in excess of 100 educators were marching the sidewalks early Wednesday morning, near the front of White Oaks Public School.
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) President Sam Hammond was expected to be on the line with them shortly before 9 a.m. but cancelled at the last minute.
Craig Smith, the local ETFO president, says his members remain hopeful rotating strikes this week and next will pressure the province to return to talks.
But Education Minister Stephen Lecce continues to call for a private mediator to be called in.
Smith says that’s not going to happen, “We’re not sure why they would want a private mediator given the fact the government has a whole department related to collective bargaining, why are they doing that? So we’re not really interested in private mediation.”
As the strikes drag on parents are worried escalating job action could make childcare difficult.
Smith says his union understands the stress, but he would not hint if walkouts lasting more than a day are coming.
The one-day rotating strikes will continue through next week, “I think we’ll take stock and see where we are at after that’s done.”
In the interim some parents able to take the day off or shift to accommodate schedules were enjoying some sledding at Basil Grover Park in London.
Parent Troy Hutchinson states he supports the walkout, while admitting a further escalation of job action would be difficult to manage.
"Well each one's going to be a little more trying than the one before. However, the government has to negotiate with the teachers, this is all the teachers can do."
As talks with the province drag on, local talks with the TVDSB are moving ahead, according to Smith.
“We’ve met seven times with the board locally. We are exchanging language and doing what we need to do. So, we appreciate that. It’s a bit of counterpoint to what’s not happening provincially.”
While the province negotiates wages and monetary issues, most contract points - not dealing with money - are settled at the local level between school boards and teachers.
All of Ontario's four major teachers' unions are engaging in some form of job action during a contentious round of contract talks, as key issues including larger class sizes and mandatory online courses remain outstanding.
The one-day walkout at public elementary schools comes one day after Catholic teachers hit the picket lines across the cty.
Back in December public high school teachers were the first to start using the rolling strike tactic.