I kept my children home from school today (11/01/13) – despite a robocall from my daughter’s middle school at 6:23am informing me that her school was open and busses were running. A quick check of my facebook newsfeed confirmed my suspicion that there would be a lot of frustrated parents and children in Ontario today.
The headline in The Toronto Sun today reads “Utter chaos brought to you by the ETFO” and I have to admit, they nailed it. The government obtained a “cease and desist” order from the Ontario Labour Relations Board who had ruled, overnight, that any move to protest during normal school hours Friday would be considered an “unlawful strike.” Following the 4 a.m. decision, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario President Sam Hammond grudgingly said teachers should show up for work. Teachers who didn’t comply with the Friday ruling could have each faced a $2,000 fine while the union itself could face a fine of up to $25,000.
Confusion Reigns at PDSB:
One look at the Peel District School Board’s facebook page reveals just how frustrated and confused parents are. The page states that, “Attendance will be taken at school today. Students who are not at school because parents believed schools were closed due to labour action will not have today recorded as an absence on their report card. Students who are ill, or are away for another reason, will be marked absent.” And this just added to the frustration. And if there wasn’t enough confusion already, PDSB threw this one into the mix as well: “Due to weather conditions, Peel board buses in Caledon are cancelled, but schools are open. Buses in Caledon will remain cancelled all day. All activities that require transportation are also cancelled. Permits, night school classes, daycare and other activities in schools will operate as usual.”
Here is a complete list of schools that are open today: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/open-or-closed-complete-list-of-ontario-school-boards-1.1109934
Mixed Emotions: Personally, I have mixed emotions about the strike. As one parent (Migdalah Hannon) on facebook said today, “Before you blame teachers for this difficult situation, know the facts and understand that if they don’t stand up for their rights today, you may not be able to stand up for yours tomorrow. The government is your representative. Do you want hard-working, valuable citizens stripped of their labour rights? Do you want a government that goes back on its word whenever it feels like it?
What Would Walmart Workers DO??? On the other hand, I understand that there people in the private sector who would give their right arms to have the union protected working conditions and contracts that teachers do. When anything like this comes up, I always think of the humble Walmart checkout operator, and I wonder WWWWD – What Would Walmart Workers DO??? I also know that there are many trained teachers out of work and many unemployed people desperate for work, and then there are those who are unable to work for many personal or medical reasons. It’s not a cliche, these ARE tough times.
The bottom Line: The union is fighting for the teachers – end of story. If the EFTO really cared about the rest of the working population, they would be protesting on weekends and really stirring up some civil unrest.
That being said, this strike affects us all – not just the parents, the teachers, the children, the unions, the government. Many business went about planning emergency day camps and child-mind today, and at the last minute, lost that extra revenue because schools are open. (But it’s still not business as usual.)
Click here to read the release from the Labour Board.
How has this labour dispute affected you?
Do you agree with the EFTO?
Do you think it’s fair that the government should impose its will on people in this way???