Union members in the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) are preparing for work-to-rule strike action before the end of the month.
In a press release, the ETFO announced it will begin work-to-rule action on Nov. 26 in an effort to send a message to the Ontario government.
“This strike action is directed at the government and at school boards and will not affect students, their learning or their safety at this point,” said Rainy River District ETFO president Monica Armour.
“We always try to keep their safety and their learning high priority, but it may affect them down the road eventually, with other actions that we choose to take.”
Once the action begins, the teachers, supply teachers and education support personnel (ESP) across the province will withdraw from the ministry and school board administrative activities.
“The actions that are going to be happening are administrative in nature,” Armour explained.
“Things like not attending staff meetings, not participating in EQAO-related activities, not participating in Ministry of Education online training or webinars. We won't be filing progress reports. They're going home to parents today, but then they get filed into their student records, and that will be an administrative task that will not be done by our members if they are not done before Nov. 26.”
Armour noted that the work-to-rule action is directly aimed at the Ford government and what the union says are important issues that must be addressed.
“The goal here is to turn up the heat on Premier Ford and his education minister,” Armour said.
“They must come to the table ready to address the real issues of concern, which are more supports for students with special needs, the protection of the current model of the kindergarten program with a teacher and a DECE (Designated Early Childhood Educator) and for critical issues like addressing violence in the schools.”
While the strike action will not currently remove students from the classroom, Armour noted the possibility exists down the road if the strike continues, though she has no time frame for the future.
“One of the other things that I'm usually asked is, 'How long is this going to last?'” Armour said.
"The answer is, I don't know. We don't know how long we're going to be in phase one, it could be a while, it could be a short while, it could be a long while, we don't know at this point. So right now we know that we're starting on Nov. 26 and then we'll go from there.
The work-to-rule action will be implemented uniformly across the province for all ETFO staff.
According to the ETFO press release, contract talks with the ministry continued this week.