Thursday, November 12, 2015

The risk of too many school disruptions

“At last” was how many media outlets reported that elementary teachers in Ontario had finally reached an agreement with the provincial government and would thus end their job action. But just as news of this reached relieved parents, high school teachers in Toronto announced they were beginning job action of their own. This has left many members of the public wondering why labour unrest in our schools seems never ending.

The move by Toronto high school teachers is especially confusing for many people because the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation had already reached a deal with the province months ago (as a CBC headline put it “Toronto high school teachers threaten job action despite deal”). But alas, under the new collective bargaining process brought in by the Liberals, the one Kathleen Wynne assured would bring harmony to schools, having a provincial agreement alone is not enough.

That is because the new process dramatically increased the number of negotiations that must take place. Under this system, a provincial agreement must be reached, and failure to do so can result in job action across the province. But on top of that, local agreements must also be achieved at each of Ontario's 72 school boards. And if that doesn’t happen, job action can take place at schools in those individual boards as well.

Hence this much heralded process almost guarantees more labour unrest in schools, not less. And remember that the complexity and length associated with the new system was cited by Education Minister Liz Sandals as the reason why the Liberals had to provide million-dollar payments to teacher unions. So if the goal of the new collective bargaining process was to streamline negotiations and ensure greater stability in our schools, it has failed miserably.  (more...)

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