A MESSAGE TO ETFO MEMBERS
Ontario Labour Relations Act
Rights, Fairness, and Responsibility
The Minister of Education and Cabinet, using the powers given to them under Bill 115, have imposed collective agreements on ETFO members for the period September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2014.
This action nullifies the right of our members to free collective bargaining as set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the long established processes in the
Since teachers first organized themselves in the early 1900s, no Ontario government of any political party has ever dictated the contents of collective agreements for teachers and other education professionals.
ETFO members never said they were opposed to a salary freeze in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.
The government has told the public that they have simply put a hold on salary increases during the term of the contract. In truth, the government has done much more; they have confiscated all unused sick days and paid some teachers less than 10 percent of the value of the seized days; they have frozen retirement gratuities; they have imposed an inferior sick leave process; and, they have delayed grid movement. These are all freely bargained components of the compensation for teachers embedded in collective agreements. In addition, they have forced a one and a half percent salary cut by requiring three unpaid leave days.
In other sectors the government has asked that there be no salary increases. In the education sector, the Minister has admitted that the government has imposed $2 billion in cuts from the compensation of teachers and other education professionals through the imposition of these additional penalties.
The responsibility for the loss of goodwill, and any disruption in services in the education system, falls squarely upon the Minister, Cabinet, and the Premier.
The government has shown its disdain and lack of respect for employees in the education sector. In a disgraceful abrogation of responsibility, the Premier has permitted the Government to squander, in ten short months, the ten years of goodwill that had been built between ETFO members and the Liberal government.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We intend to continue our political action against Bill 115 and the imposed collective agreements. After the upcoming Liberal leadership convention, we will approach the new Premier and the Minister of Education and demand that they take action to restore immediately freely bargained collective agreements.
The regulations that imposed the collective agreement are being reviewed by legal counsel and we will keep you informed of their analysis and any decisions reached by the provincial Executive in consultation with local presidents.
The Provincial Executive will be meeting early in the week of January 7th and a meeting of local presidents and chief negotiators is scheduled for January 9th. At those meetings the Executive, local presidents, and local negotiators will have a comprehensive discussion about next steps in responding to the government's action.
How Should Members Respond?
The education sector functions on goodwill. Goodwill cannot be legislated or imposed.
Given what has occurred, it cannot be business as usual in public elementary schools. A lack of a response will mean that members are prepared to accept both the loss of their democratic right to free collective bargaining and a much greater penalty than that imposed, or threatened, on any other public sector worker.
Given the actions of the government, members will continue to focus only on the direct instruction of students and ensure student safety. It has always been the position of the Federation that participation in extracurricular and other non-instructional activities is voluntary. There are times when it is both appropriate and necessary to withdraw from voluntary activities. We believe that these are such times.
For the time being ETFO members should continue to push the pause button on voluntary activities.
Sam Hammond - ETFO President