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School strike action back in play

The local public school board says student safety and maintaining the instructional day are its top priorities now that five bargaining groups of an educational union have started some strike actions.
“Student supervision is an issue, and contingency plans are in place at all schools. This will be closely monitored,” said a news release Monday from the Upper Grand District School Board.
“No schools are closed,” it added.
The local Catholic board is also affected, although none of its teachers are involved in the strike actions ordered by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.
At the Upper Grand board, the OSSTF groups imposing sanctions include regular and occasional teachers in high schools, as well as secondary and elementary office staff, central clerical staff and the board’s IT department. Also taking part in the strike are educational assistants, early childhood educators and professional support personnel ¬– child and youth care workers, social workers, and speech and language pathologists.
Elementary teachers and CUPE workers – custodial and maintenance staff – are not in a legal strike position, the board release said.
“At this time, secondary teachers have indicated that they will not withdraw from extra-curricular school activities and additional student assistance,” it said.
More information on the strike sanctions is available at www.osstf.on.ca, it said.
The strike action was originally set to start last Wednesday, but was postponed to allow more talks between the OSSTF and the provincial government. Those talks ended without an agreement being reached, and OSSTF president Ken Coran announced early Monday that the strike actions were to start that day.
The OSSTF is open to further discussions at both the provincial and local levels, but at this time no further talks are scheduled, Coran said in a news release.
The Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board are among 20 public and Catholic school boards across the province that are affected so far by the OSSTF strike actions. Their OSSTF locals are in a legal strike position under the province’s Labour Relations Act.
Teachers at the province’s Catholic boards aren’t participating in the strike actions, because the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association reached a deal with the province in early July. Bill 115, which was introduced by the Liberal government on Aug. 27 and passed on Sept. 11 with support from the Progressive Conservatives, reflected the contents of the deal that had been reached with the Catholic teachers union.
At the Wellington Catholic board, the groups taking part in the strike action include early childhood educators, educational support staff, office, clerical, technical and professional student services personnel. They have all have been told by their union to take certain strike actions, like their counterparts at the affected public boards.
High school teachers at affected public boards, including the Upper Grand board, have been told by their union to refuse to do many of their normal duties, including many administrative tasks.

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