More teachers, support staff protests expected against wage freeze legislation

TORONTO – Ontario’s public elementary teachers are expected to outline their next job actions today following a series of one-day rotating strikes to protest wage freeze legislation.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation will hold a news conference to outline its strategy once the Dec. 31 deadline passes for them to negotiate new contracts with local school boards.

The teachers say they’d accept a two-year wage freeze but feel Bill 115 infringes on their right to collective bargaining and limits their right to strike.

However, Premier Dalton McGuinty says the dispute is all about pay, even though some teachers have seen an 80 per cent salary hike since he was first elected in 2003.

He says the Ontario Liberals have been “very fair” to teachers for the past nine years.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents workers and support staff in both the public and Catholic school boards, says its members are also planning political protests if new contracts are imposed after the Dec. 31 cutoff for bargaining.

However, Education Minister Laurel Broten hasn’t said if she will impose contracts immediately in the new year or wait until the Liberals pick a new leader, and premier, before using the provisions in Bill 115.