Friday, 5 Mar 2021

Coronavirus: Union for Ontario secondary school teachers drops strike action

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced Wednesday it will be suspending all strike action immediately amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a release issued Wednesday, the union said all sanctions will be suspended, including those “that were part of a limited withdrawal of administrative services that have been in place since Nov. 26, 2019.”

The suspension was previously announced to last up until March 27, however, as of Wednesday, the union said the suspension will be “indefinite.”

“Last week, we wrote to the Ministry of Education, and to the associations representing Ontario’s school boards, to offer our full cooperation and support in any efforts that will help to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus,”  said OSSTF/FEESO president Harvey Bischof.

“We also advised local OSSTF/FEESO leaders that we wished to be flexible in the application of administrative sanctions in any circumstances where those sanctions may hinder measures to counter the pandemic.”

Bischof urged Education Minister Stephen Lecce to consult with OSSTF before implementing any further plans for Ontario education during the pandemic.

The provincial government announced the full closure of Ontario schools and child care centres earlier, on March 12.

All four unions representing Ontario teachers from kindergarten to Grade 12, Catholic and public, were without a contract since August 2019.

However, the same day the closures were announced, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) said they reached a tentative deal with the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association and the provincial government.

“We are enormously proud of the sustained campaign OSSTF/FEESO members have undertaken over many months to defend publicly-funded education in Ontario. Those efforts have been, indisputably, in the best interests of both our students and the long-term health of public education in Ontario,” said Bischof.

“For the time being, however, we believe it is necessary to turn our full attention to the immediate crisis at hand.”

As of Tuesday evening, there were 184 active coronavirus cases in Ontario.

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