Politics
McGuinty vows to stop teachers' walkout

Sam Hammond delivers a speech to members and supporters of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) during a rally in Downtown Kingston on Thursday December 20th 2012, during a provincial wide day of strike for the EFTO.

Credits: QMI AGENCY

ANTONELLA ARTUSO | QMI AGENCY

The Ontario government will move to stop a planned walkout by the province's public elementary teachers this Friday, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised Wednesday.

Ontario's public elementary school teachers are planning to walk off the job Friday to protest contracts imposed on them by the provincial government through Bill 115.

McGuinty vowed his government will go to the Ontario Labour Relations Board before Friday to demand that the day of protest be declared an illegal strike because a collective agreement is in place.

"I know teachers are law abiding; I know they don't want to break the law," McGuinty said. "And I'm urging them not to."

McGuinty said teachers upset with Bill 115 can take out their frustrations in court, or hold protests outside of school hours.

Teachers would be sending the wrong message to students if they participated in illegal job actions, he said.

"We count on (teachers) to set a good example. I know that weighs heavily on them," McGuinty said.
Under provincial labour legislation, an employer can apply to the courts for a cease and desist order, and ignoring such a court order can bring fines and even jail time.

Sam Hammond, the president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said in a statement that teachers, designated early childhood educators, professional support personnel and education support workers will participate in a provincewide, one-day political protest as a result of Education Minister Laurel Broten's decision to use Bill 115 to impose deals.

"Our members are standing up to say that democratic values must trump party politics in this province," Hammond said. "What happened to educators must not happen to any other Ontarian. The stain of Bill 115, enacted four months ago this Friday, serves as a permanent reminder of that."

Tory Education Critic Lisa MacLeod said the union leadership and the Dalton McGuinty government - not teachers - are to blame for the disruption.

"If the minister fails to impose fines on this rogue union leader and each of the (union) locals that actually participate, then we are going to probably see more turmoil in our classrooms - and that's unacceptable," MacLeod said. "If I were education minister today, I would be sending a direct signal to say that, ‘Do this at your own risk because you will be fined to the fullest extent of the law.'"

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