Elementary teachers to give 'ample notice' of strikes

Parents will get three days' notice when elementary teachers and education professionals move ahead with planned strikes next month, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario said Wednesday.

A Wednesday news release from ETFO said there are currently work-to-rule strike actions occurring in four Ontario school boards, but "teachers in all other boards will also be in a strike position during December."

When that happens, planned strikes by union locals will "affect operations in each public elementary school throughout the province," ETFO said.

"It is unfortunate that we have been placed in the position of having to strike by Education Minister Laurel Broten, but we will provide parents with ample notice to ensure the safety of students," ETFO president Sam Hammond said in a statement.

ETFO, which represents 76,000 teachers and education professionals, said the provincial government invited it to join talks with ministry officials and a mediator on Nov. 11, though the union said Broten "abruptly shut the session down."

The Ontario government introduced controversial legislation this fall that allows it to quash strikes and impose agreements that will freeze wages.

On Wednesday, Premier Dalton McGuinty defended the Putting Students First Act, saying that Ontarians want their provincial government to take "effective measures" to bring down a $14.4-billion deficit — including wage freezes.

"We think it's the best approach, it's a responsible approach and I think it's one that's broadly supported by Ontarians,” McGuinty said.

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