Mass demonstrations by students and teachers alike were held on 19 September in opposition to the Putting Students First Act, or Bill 115, passed on 11 September. Those opposed deplore the fact that the Bill deprives Ontario’s teachers of their right to collective-bargaining actions and unprofessionally withholds their due wages.
The Ontarian Liberal Government recently passed legislation nullifying pending wage increases for all local educators (if they did not agree to sign the bill proposal by 1 September) and freezing teachers’ salaries for two years. In addition, the bill delays pay-grid bumps for all young teachers, cuts the number of sick days per year in half—from 20 to 10, and puts an end to certain policies which allow teachers to bank unused sick days and cash out at retirement. The entirety of the Bill should take effect as of 21 December 2012. The Ministry of Education has also banned any organised demonstrations for all public service workers for a two year period. Local teachers believe that education and educational staff should not have to pay for the province’s deficit.
CTF: Abuse of legal authority and violation of right to collective bargaining
EI’s affiliate, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), has issued a news release in support of their affiliates:
“The 200.000 teachers of Canada raise their voices in support of all their Ontario counterparts in their struggle to secure their rights to fair collective bargaining," says Paul Taillefer, president of the CTF.
“A legislated settlement, as the McGuinty government proposes, represents an abuse of its legislative authority and interferes with collective bargaining that, in some cases, has yet to begin. It is an affront to every teacher in Canada,” adds Taillefer.
The CTF President has urged the Premier of Ontario to reconsider the legislation and to permit the parties’ return to the bargaining table in good faith: “Collective bargaining is a problem-solving process. Contracts by government decree have no place in a democratic society.”
CTF has also urged teacher organizations across Canada to show their solidarity with their Ontario counterparts: “An attack against one Member organization is an attack against us all,” concludes Taillefer.
EI: Crisis is not an excuse to undermine education and educators’ rights
EI urges the Ontarian liberal Government to consider the detriment that the deteriorating relationship between itself and the local educators will have on Ontarian public education.
“We urge both sides of the conflict to re-engage in negotiations of the bill without freezing the contractual wage increases and limiting the collective-bargaining rights of Ontario’s local educators,” said EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen. “The Ontarian Government must not use the economic crisis as a pretext to enforce deep cuts in education spending, and disregard educators’ trade union rights, including the right to collective-bargaining.”
Here is a video on students protesting against Bill 115.