Public high schools throughout Durham will likely be closed Wednesday (Jan. 15) as members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation continue strike action.
The union has announced that DDSB teachers and education workers will participate in a one-day, full withdrawal of services as part of a series of rotating strikes across the province.
“All DDSB secondary schools and programs that will close on January 15 will re-open for regularly scheduled classes on January 16, and will continue with scheduled classes thereafter, pending further notice. DDSB’s Job Action Committee will continue to provide updated communication to families related to this escalation in job action,” reads a statement from the Durham District School Board.
“We value our staff and their work with students. We also recognize their right to the collective bargaining process, which includes the option of full withdrawal of services.”
Union President Harvey Bischof noted that the government is peddling a “false narrative” that the dispute is related to compensation.
“And yet, when we offered to call off our most recent job action in exchange for class size and staffing guarantees – issues entirely unrelated to compensation – the Ford government chose to reject that offer rather than keep students in classrooms,” reads a media release.
He emphasized that the union is extending that same offer with regard to Wednesday’s job actions.
“If the government agrees to return to, and maintain, the class size ratios and staffing levels that were in place just a year ago, we will call off our January 15 job action, and continue to bargain in good faith to resolve the many other outstanding issues,” he said.
“It’s time for the Minister to stop playing politics with our students’ education. It’s time for him to recognize that agreements are reached through focused discussion at the bargaining table, not through hyperbolic claims at press conferences.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce also addressed the situation in a media release.
“For the fifth time, OSSTF union leaders have directed their members to not show up to class. These union leaders will forcefully advocate for the interests of their members – from higher wages to enhanced entitlements – however, they ought not oppose the academic aspirations of our students,” reads a media release.
“Students should be in class. It is most concerning that teacher unions’ leaders disagree and continue to impede learning for the next generation. Our government is focused on landing deals that keep students in class so that we end the frustrating experience families face due to predictable union escalation. This continued strike action is unfair to students and their families.”