Ontario teachers’ ill-timed work-to-rule campaign falls on deaf ears

Matt Coutts
Daily Brew

The decision of an Ontario teachers' union to launch strike action today comes at an odd time, with the provincial legislature prorogued and the ears listening to Queen's Park turned away from the bargaining table.

The Canadian Press reports that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) called for thousands of teachers to stop doing secondary duties on Monday, duties that could include coaching, meeting with parents and submitting attendance records.

Of course, this is in reaction to the Ontario government's anti-strike law, which stripped teachers' unions of their right to strike and also cut benefits and froze wages for most members.

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The unions have tried to make clear that their beef is with government and not with the students, who have been stuck in the middle of a fight between mommy and daddy for months.

So maybe the OSSTF should hold fire until they have a target to aim at, because this gesture only serves to punish students.

Queen's Park has been dark since Dalton McGuinty prorogued the fall session to cool down a contentious legislature, allow the governing Liberals to choose a new leader and establish a new set of priorities.

McGuinty told CBC he resigned as premier after it became clear neither the Conservatives nor NDP would support a bill to freeze public-sector wages.

And while opposition leaders say McGunity's decision was more about avoiding debate on cancelled gas plants, there is likely a cornucopia of reasons behind the call — the public wage freeze debate among them.

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The teachers' "selective strike" was intended to launch last week, but it was delayed to give negotiations with the province another chance to succeed.

To perhaps no one's surprise, it did not work and here we are — no closer to a resolution and a few days closer to the eventual resumption of the legislature.

When the Liberals return to Queen's Park, they will have a new leader who may have new ideas how to be best friends with the unions again.

For now, the OSSTF is playing politics with an empty room. They may have more arrows in their quiver, but this decision to launch selective strike action is one that could have been shot when a new target jumped into view.

Ontario teachers' ill-timed work-to-rule campaign falls on deaf ears