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Any teacher strikes after Dec. 31 illegal, Broten says

TORONTO, Ont. – Wednesday’s round of single-day strikes by the elementary school teachers across the province has more than 48,000 teachers with the Halton, Bluewater, and Algoma school boards staging walkouts.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario is expected to announce its next move on Friday. Education minister Laurel Broten said Wednesday there’s still time to work out a deal; however, any strikes after Dec. 31 will be considered illegal.

While Broten remains optimistic that the teachers unions can negotiate a contract by the deadline. If they don’t the government will impose a contract using Bill 115.

“It would always be our choice to see locally negotiated collective agreements but let me very clear, if we do not see negotiated agreements under-put the putting students act we have the ability to put in place collective agreements,” Broten said.

If the government intervenes with a contract, even one-day walkouts would not be legally allowed.

“The case law if very clear, once a collective agreement is in place you are not in a legal strike position and that one day of action would be wild-cat strike action,” Broten explained.

She said that she appreciates the way parents have come together to deal with the strikes.

“Families across the province demonstrated that they’ve come together, that they found a way and it was one day and one day only and certainly I am holding the Elementary Teachers Federation to their word and their promise to communities that it would be one day,” Broten said.

In the fall of 1997, the province reimbursed parents for the extra costs associated with a two-week illegal strike but Broten said that’s not happening this time.