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Bill 115

Tribune photo illustration

ETFO president Sam Hammond said his members would comply with the Ontario Labour Relations Board’s decision that deemed the protest illegal and cancelled its one-day walkout.

School as usual, protest deemed illegal

The Upper Grand District School Board announced in the wee hours of the morning that all of its elementary schools in Guelph are open today (Friday Jan. 11), after the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario cancelled its one-day political protest.
In a news release Friday morning, ETFO president Sam Hammond said his members would comply with the Ontario Labour Reaations Board’s decision that deemed the protest illegal and cancelled its one-day walkout.
“We did not believe this to be an illegal strike based on past political protests directed at the government,” Hammond said. However, he said, “we respect the OLRB’s decision and will comply fully with the ruling.”
The labour board has “provided direction and we will abide by that,” he said. “However, we still have a situation where the terms and conditions of our members’ employment have been dictated through a disgraceful misuse of government power. It cannot be business as usual in the education sector.”
Hammond said his federation hopes the Liberal leadership convention late this month will change the situation. “Once again, we are calling on whoever is elected premier to meet with us and have respectful discussions to restore positive relations in a manner that is fair and respectful,” he said in the release.
Inclement weather overnight Thursday meant the board cancelled all school buses Friday, which saw the closing of schools that are dependent on busing. This includes Aberfoyle school, but no other schools in the city.
All extended day and before- and after-school programs at open schools are operating, the board said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Upper Grand board had announced that it would close all of its elementary schools to students on Friday because of a planned one-day walkout by unionized teachers and other education workers belonging to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
It asked parents to make alternative care arrangements for their children and not send them to school on Friday. It said school buses would run to pick up secondary, Catholic and French-language students, but would not collect Upper Grand elementary school students. It also said that if a child attends a before and after, day care or “extended day” program in an Upper Grand elementary school, the operator of the program would notify parents directly about their plans for the day.
However, shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday the school board issued an urgent news release saying that the protest might be and that parents should watch their child’s elementary school website or the board website – www.ugdsb.on.ca – for updates. The board also has a hot-line at 519-827-2089.
The Ontario Labour Relations Board hearing started at 3 p.m. Thursday to consider the Ontario government’s application to have the proposed teachers’ action declared an “illegal strike.” The labour board’s decision was finally made in the middle of the night.
ETFO announced its “one-day political protest” early Wednesday afternoon. The one-day protest was aimed at the provincial government and Education Minister Laurel Broten for invoking Bill 115 on Jan. 3 to impose two-year contracts, said an ETFO news release.
Broten “made a deliberate and provocative choice to wipe out the democratic rights of tens of thousands of educators rather than work towards a respectful solution,” ETFO president Sam Hammond said in the release. “She could have taken our olive branch and waited for a new leader to try and find solutions, but she chose not to.”
The release said that 92% of ETFO members who cast an online ballot in December voted in favour of a one-day political protest if Broten were to impose contracts using Bill 115.
ETFO also held one-day protests in December, which resulted in Upper Grand elementary schools being closed to students on Dec. 14.

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