Teachers union, province return to bargaining table today

WEST CARLETON – After six-weeks of silent staring, the public elementary teachers union and the Ontario government have resumed negotiations today (Jan. 29).

A government-appointed mediator has called the two sides back to the table as elementary teachers continue a series of rotating strikes and are planning to escalate them next week.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has been staging one-day, rotating strikes since last week, and the boards targeted today are Greater Essex County, Near North, Limestone and Upper Canada.

If no deal is reached by Friday, (Jan. 31) ETFO plans to stage a province-wide strike once a week — with the first one set for Thursday, Feb. 6 — and each board where it has members will be hit by a one-day rotating strike as well.

Union president Sam Hammond says he hopes the government negotiators have a mandate to remove further cuts, increase supports for students with special needs, preserve the current kindergarten model and maintain fair and transparent hiring practices.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says he hopes the union comes to the table with realistic proposals that prioritize student success over compensation demands.