Teachers say 'No' to Bill 115 0
COLLINGWOOD – Local teachers joined the province-wide protest of Bill 115 with their own demonstration Friday afternoon.
Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government passed the bill, also known as The Putting Students First Act, Tuesday morning which imposed wage freezes, the end of sick-day banks, and a two-year strike ban.
More than 60 teachers rallied in front of MPP Jim Wilson's office on Hume Street in the rain after work Friday to express their concerns with the bill.
Collingwood Collegiate Institue teacher Bill Hewitt said they are protesting more than the loss of some benefits. He said it's about the government eliminating their collective bargaining rights.
“We want to raise awareness to folks, we want people to know it's not about wage freezes and sick days. It's about an erosion of workers right,” he said. “This is going to be happening across the board.”
The teachers waved Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation (OSSTF) flags, held signs with “Bill 115” crossed out, “Thanks for stealing our democratic rights Jim Wilson” and “Support all workers” for about an hour.
The Provincial OSSTF vice-president Paul Elliot said only three out of 72 school boards agreed to the legislation and trying to implement it is problematic when it is not helpful to many boards.
Elliot said the protesters hope to get this message to the government: “It is still not too late to allow us to bargain and negotiate and you need to find a way in order to give us the ability to do that ... let us bargain, let us negotiate with our employers to come to a fair and reasonable settlement so there is peace and stability.”
On Wednesday, thousands of teachers in Ontario donned black clothing and armbands as part of the protest.
Many unions are calling for 76,000 teachers with public school boards to consider opting-out of volunteering to run extracurricular activities and events at school.
“Everyone wants to do the best at their work, so this has had such an impact when people have to start questioning the extra work that they do,” said Cheryl Nicholls Jones, district 17 political action chair and Collingwood and District Labour Council president.
“The fact that this whole situation has been created is so not necessary and it's all about the right to bargain fairly. We feel like it isn’t too later to turn it around, but for now it's a matter of conscience for each member.”
Furthermore, unions are introducing “McGuinty Mondays,” urging teachers not to participate in school-based meetings or regional Ministry meetings on Mondays.
“We do not take this action lightly,” said President of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Sam Hammond in a press release. “Ontarians and the government need to know that you cannot take away the democratic rights of working people simply to fulfil a political party’s agenda or ideology.”
ETFO said they plan to challenge the bill in court.
With files from QMI Agency