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OSSTF president threatens April strike

Last Updated May 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm EDT

The president of the union representing the province’s secondary teachers is threatening strike action if contract negotiations don’t speed up with school boards.

Hundreds of teachers in seven districts across Ontario have not had a contract since last August, including ones in Durham, Peel and Halton.

Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Assembly, OSSTF president Paul Elliott said their patience in the negotiations is running thin.

“Our members employed by school boards have gone six months without a contract, and despite giving notice to bargain on June 3 of last year, we are still awaiting meaningful negotiations,” he said. “The clock is ticking, and our patience is wearing thin.”

Elliott said that unless they see positive movement at the bargaining table, there will be “full withdrawal of services by the end of April.”

“If it comes down to job action, by any bargaining unit, anywhere in this province, this entire Federation – every member – will be actively supporting that action,” he said.

The threat comes as a surprise to president of the Ontario Public School Board Association Michael Barrett, who said negotiations between the two sides have not soured.

“Certainly there’s not an element of distrust across the table, there’s still a good discussion going on,” he said. “So I’m a little perplexed on why there’s a call for action at this point.”

Barrett said he feels the negotiations at both the local and provincial levels have been moving forward since they began in January.

“I would say on both the local level and the provincial level they are progressing and they are moving forward,” he said. “I was still very hopeful on being able to continue the dialogue without having to negotiate in public.”

Barrett assures the parents who may be concerned about their child’s school year that the two sides will continue to work through the issues and will hopefully come to an agreement.

Click here to read a complete transcript of Elliott’s address.