Cabinet document addressed to teachers and sent to parents outlines new strike rules and what those deciding to go on strike can expect
Teachers are banned from performing any Christmas concerts, holiday door decorating or gingerbread houses during the upcoming strike of elementary school staff, according to a notice of proposed new strike rules to parents sent by the Catholic school board in Toronto on Monday.
The move follows a labour dispute between Toronto’s Catholic teachers and Catholic school boards across the city over salary and other issues.
A strike or lockout by teachers would start on 20 August, the letter reads.
After a strike, parents would be allowed to pick up their children’s classes on the first day, and pick up children on the second day, as well as pick up one whole class. The board will not see any revenue loss with these pick-ups, according to the memo.
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The letter also states that teachers can’t make the same decisions as parents about when their children should attend school. Those who decide to go on strike would be able to have that information communicated directly to their families through the school. If a teacher decides they can’t go on strike, parents would receive a letter offering them childcare if they choose.
“Parents are encouraged to monitor the status of the strike via the Don Bosco Catholic secondary school website and Facebook page,” the memo states.
The memo says the board hopes teachers will withdraw overtime and will provide their full participation in work activities “should the minimum turnout be 40%” in a strike vote.
“Please be advised that if you are not in the agreed work status, your employment with us will cease,” the memo states.
The memo lists specific rules for post-strike activities. Teachers must maintain their uniforms at school, and in court, according to the memo. Teachers are also prevented from booking youth centres for drop-off or pick-up after school or on weekends, but are allowed to attend coaches’ training.
The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association declined to comment on the memo, but did highlight the decision to go on strike in light of the upcoming court hearings.
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Tensions have been high between teachers and education boards over labour issues since the end of last year, when their wage offers were vastly different from those made by the province, and the ruling Liberals agreed to table legislation to determine how the schools would operate during a potential strike or lockout.
During that time, the Ontario high school teachers association and the Toronto Catholic school board were embroiled in a protracted legal dispute over the use of controversial funding for voluntary activities. The teachers association pushed for its members to continue those activities in court while the Catholic board argued the activities were a reward and didn’t constitute a regular part of a teacher’s job.
Both sides avoided a court battle by agreeing on new rules that mandated their members would not use their own money to fund those activities. On 1 January, the association complied, and the teachers went on strike as of 13 January. The original Ontario elementary teachers’ union successfully argued that their members’ part-time recreational activities should also be excluded from provincial funding rules for special teaching and support jobs.
In December, the two sides met to discuss concerns with the language in the new contract deal, but no deals were reached. Earlier this week, talks ended in disagreement.
On Monday, Canada’s Ministry of Labour confirmed that an investigation has been launched into claims that the two teachers’ unions in Ontario violated provincial labour laws over the dispute.
In a statement, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation noted that its members have been unable to reach a deal with their school boards, despite mediation.
“The board unilaterally moved salaries that were already well above the provincial minimum, while imposing on us mandatory participation in his compulsory roles,” the statement reads.