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Education minister offers mediation to settle elementary school contract dispute

'Strike action could mean school closures, disruption, and uncertainty for students and parents'
stephen lecce
Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education is calling for mediation in the ongoing labour negotiations with the province's elementary teachers.

"My goal, since day one, has been to reach negotiated settlements with our education partners, with the intention of keeping Ontario's students in the classroom," he said in a morning news release.

See: Preps beginning for elementary teachers work to rule

"While our Government has been a reasonable force and student-focused at the bargaining table, the labour unions continue to take escalating steps towards strike action. Strike action could mean school closures, disruption, and uncertainty for students and parents."

Lecce says he is offering all education sector unions the option to enter into mediation.

"I believe this is the right step, as mediation involves an independent third party to assist the unions, trustee associations, and the Government in reaching settlements. I am asking all our partners to accept this offer so together we can reach deals that keep our kids in class."

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is preparing members for a work-to-rule strike action that begins on Tuesday, November 26.

 “We are making this known well in advance to assure parents that this strike action will not affect students, their learning or their safety,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “ETFO members will be withdrawing from Ministry and school board administrative activities, which will give them more time to focus on working with students.”

Meanwhile, the union representing Ontario's high school teachers will be releasing the results of their strike votes today.

See: High school teachers to reveal strike vote results, discuss 'next steps'

Three of Ontario's four major teachers' unions are taking steps toward potential strikes as they negotiate with the government for new contracts.

Elementary teachers are set to start a work-to-rule campaign on Nov. 26 that they say will target ministry and school board administrative tasks and will not affect student learning.

Catholic teachers voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike if necessary, although they are not yet in a legal strike position, while negotiations between the province and French teachers continue.

With files from Canadian Press.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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