Premier Kathleen Wynne says she’s optimistic that teachers will have a normal return before classes resume in the fall, but she may have spoke too soon, after the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association announced labour action amid failed talks.
The union said in a statement on Monday evening that talks last week failed to reach a new deal, so its 50,000 members will not participate in any activities that fall outside of their contractual obligations, meaning they’ll omit from certain administrative duties.
According to Union president Ann Hawkins, the work-to-rule will begin on Aug. 20 when classes begin at Bishop Belleau Catholic School in Moosonee, and will expand after the rest of the schools resume. Four more days of negotiations are scheduled for later this week.
“We remain hopeful, but it’s important that parents know there are bigger things at stake in these negotiations,” Hawkins said in a statement.
115,000 teachers in Ontario are in legal strike positions after being without contracts for a year. The other big unions are threatening similar action if contracts are not in place by Sept. 8.
However, Wynne says that, despite earlier doubts, she believes contracts will be in place, saying unions are either back at the bargaining table or have scheduled dates with school boards.
Earlier this summer, Education Minister Liz Sandals expressed similar enthusiasm, saying talks and meetings were in motion.