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Teachers vow to end strikes if Ont. doesn't impose contracts

TORONTO, Ont. – Public elementary teachers will end strikes and not step up their protests against Bill 115 if the Ontario government agrees not to impose contracts on them and school boards.

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said he’s offering a solution to what he calls the province’s dysfunctional and chaotic relationship with teachers.

The teachers staged a series of one-day rotating strikes across the province over the last two weeks.

Hammond calls the legislation dangerous and said it infringes on their right to collective bargaining.

He said Premier Dalton McGuinty is wrong to say the fight is all about pay, adding the union is willing to accept a two-year wage freeze.

“Let’s all of us take a pause, if you will — don’t impose that collective agreement Dec. 31, allow a new premier to be elected, and let us work with that new premier,” Hammond said.

He won’t spell out the details, but he said expect things to get worse.

“This will aggravate the situation for parents, students at schools in every community across this province,” Hammond said.

Education Minister Laurel Broten told union leaders to reach local deals before the Dec. 31 deadline, which might be a hint at her intentions.

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

Hammond’s news conference opened with a moment of silence for the 26 people killed last Friday at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn.