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Teachers rallying together

'We would like to be bargaining and not in this position, so we would really like to be at the table'

Four teachers' unions gathered in solidarity as part of a one day strike in front of St. Joseph-Scollard Hall this morning.  

The unions stood together in frustration as the unions are ramping up their job action in response to a lack of negotiations. 

"We would like to be bargaining and not in this position, so we would really like to be at the table," said Rick Belisle, OECTA Local President Nipissing Secondary Unit of OECTA.

"Catholic teachers, we met over 40 days with the government and we have nothing and in fact, they have actually pulled proposals and they fired their bargaining team so this government, unfortunately, does not want to bargain a fair contract with us." 

Tammy Chasse is the OECTA Nipissing Elementary Unit President. 

"What is at stake here is our students' education," said Chasse. 

"The government is making cuts that are going to have a long term impact on a lot of student's education."

See related: Catholic Teachers 'Scared and Disappointed' as strike looms

The strike affects about 145 full-time teachers and another 100 occasional teachers.

Chasse believes class size is a huge issue in the region and across the province.  

"What the government is not sharing is if they increase class sizes by a couple - it is a board average - so some classes might have 15 kids in it and other classes are going to have 40 kids in it," she explained on the picket line today.  

"So it is going to be huge."

In a release, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli questioned the timing of the job action as potentially impacting high school students who are preparing for exams. 

"It is unacceptable that OSSTF would ramp up strike action at a time when high school students are preparing for exams," Fedeli said. 

"Our message to teachers’ union leaders is clear: enough is enough with the strikes that only hurt our kids. Let’s focus our energies on getting a deal that keeps students in class." 

Belisle says that is not the case.  

"We purposely did not target any exams during this so Mr. Fedeli, the Ford government, they constantly talk about their message and they don't change their message, unfortunately," said Belisle in response.  


Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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