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Province-wide, one-day OSSTF strike hits EDHS


by Sylene Argent

Plenty of horns of passersby were honked to show support for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) District Nine, which had high school teachers, in addition to support staff at high school and elementary levels, participate in the province-wide, one-day strike last Wednesday afternoon from Essex District High School (EDHS).

  Neil Arner, OSSTF District 9 Vice-President, said the union members were striking along Maidstone Avenue and Talbot Street, from EDHS, to raise awareness regarding a number of concerns. One of which is because the province wants to increase class sizes, which he suspects will make it harder for students to learn.

  Educators, he said, are also concerned with the province wanting to introduce mandatory online classes. He said the province has not been clear as to who would deliver this form of learning and has not provided proof that it would benefit the students’ education.

  Another concern Arner highlighted included compensation for educators. He said while bargaining, the province has offered a one-percent max increase per year. He said the union is looking to have that increased to around 2 percent to keep in line with the cost of living increases.

  “We would like the Minister of Education [Stephen Lecce] to bargain in good faith,” Arner said. “The sooner the better. We hope to accelerate the process. There has been virtually no progress since [negotiation] talks began.”

  “We would like to be in the class room,” Arner added. “Teachers and parents want students in the classrooms, too.”

  Arner noted OSSTF has received a lot of support from the community.

  Some school boards in the province were planning a one-day strike for this Wednesday, including in Toronto.

  According to news.ontario.ca, on December 6, Lecce, Minister of Education, issued a statement.

  “Union leadership has made clear they will strike again unless we accept their demand for a $1.5 billion increase in compensation applied provincially, which includes pay and benefits. We value teachers and their commitment to our students. However, OSSTF teachers on average make over $92,000 per year and are the second highest paid in the nation. 

  “Our aim is a fiscally sustainable education system. We have consistently been fair and reasonable, focused on keeping kids in class. However, repeated escalation at the expense of our students’ education, to advance higher compensation, higher wages, and even more generous benefits, is unacceptable for parents and students in our province,” Lecce stated.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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