Toronto’s Catholic elementary teachers have put their strike plans on hold.
Their union’s plan to target schools from Monday was canceled on Friday afternoon as talks with the Toronto District School Board continued.
“In evidence of good faith and as a result of constructive dialogue with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers has decided to suspend our full withdrawal of services,” union president Julie Altomare DiNunzio said in a written statement. “Classes will continue as expected on Monday, January 31, 2022.”
The board said it would “continue to ask TECT to give five days notice of which schools will be affected and when, TECT would decide to start a full withdrawal of services again.”
The council told the union earlier in the day that it needed to know which primary schools would be targeted by strikes next week and on what days, and asked the province’s labor relations council to enforce the issue.
Council chairman Angela Kennedy said in a statement after the council was notified of the strike – which warned the union that one or more schools would strike on Monday if a preliminary agreement was not reached by that time – it said more need details, “to provide families. with the appropriate information to prepare.”
Without explaining the Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers’ Union, known as TECT, “there is no way of knowing whether one elementary school will be affected on Monday and whether all elementary schools will be affected on Monday,” Kennedy said. “It is also impossible to know what to expect on Tuesday 1 February and so on.”
She said “if all teachers go on strike at a particular school, the council will have no choice but to close the school to students. Despite the need for families to prepare alternative arrangements in the event of a school closure, as well as the obvious safety issues caused by a young student being dropped off at school only to learn that there are no teachers available to monitor, TECT refused to provide this information. “
Negotiations are continuing and both sides have said they are willing to work through the weekend.
Earlier this week, TECT announced that after months of work-to-govern, including a ban on extracurricular activities, parent-teacher meetings and the provision of barefoot report cards, teachers will hit the posts.
While provincial agreements have been concluded with all teachers’ unions covering expensive items such as salaries, local transactions cover more administrative-type items.
Most union residents in the province, including Toronto’s Catholic secondary teachers, have ratified local agreements in recent years.
The primary teachers have been without a contract since 2019.
Kennedy said the outstanding issues between the two sides include better management of the “serious issue” of absenteeism, as well as how to best assign teachers to classes to reduce disruption in schools, especially in the fall when classes are reorganized on ground of actual enrollment after school begins.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce called any strikes at this stage “an insult to the interests of children who deserve to be in school”, given the tensions children experienced during the pandemic.
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