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The Globe and Mail

Teachers’ strike having little impact on business, employers say

Toronto public elementary teachers and occasional teachers staged a one-day strike this Tuesday December 18 to continue sending the government a message that Bill 115 is severely impeding local collective bargaining. Teachers were out early at the Mowat Block, in downtown Toronto, which houses the Ministry of Education.

Peter Power/Peter Power

The widespread one-day strike by Ontario elementary school teachers is a nuisance for employers but so far is not causing them any major disruptions.

As hundreds of thousands of students are shut out of their schools, working parents have been scrambling to find alternate arrangements or been forced to stay at home.

Two factors have helped dampen the impact: the advance notice the parents had gave them some time to prepare, and some workers have already begun their Christmas holidays.

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The strike action is "causing companies frustration when workers aren't able to come in," said Ian Howcrost, the Canadian Exporters and Manufacturers Association vice-president for Ontario.

Bigger companies have plans in place to deal with these kind of emergency situations, he said. For example, they can call in replacement workers on short notice. Small and medium-sized firms, however, for the most part, handle these events on an ad hoc basis, said Mr. Howcrost.

There is a bit of overlap with the start of the winter holidays, so that helps ease the impact, he said.

Bombardier Aerospace, which has a sprawling facility in Downsview, isn't experiencing any disruption, said spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera.

"It's business as usual for us. We've not noticed any impact on the business," she said. The advance notice of the strike gave time for staff to plan ahead, she added.

Some employees can work from home, while those who cannot have personal days they can take, she said.

A spokesman at the head office of Research in Motion Ltd. in Waterloo said there has been no noticeable effect on work today due to the strike.

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Scott Brownrigg, spokesman for the Toronto Board of Trade, said a one-day strike is not the sort of event that is tracked by the association. But he said he has not heard any anecdotal evidence of major problems for businesses as a result of the teachers' action.

"Given the advance notice and short duration of the strike CIBC does not anticipate any real disruption to our clients," Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce spokesman Kevin Dove said in an email message Tuesday.

CIBC encouraged its employees, starting in the first week of December, to discuss the potential impact of the strike with their managers and find solutions in the event of disruption of their work schedule, he said.

The bank offers a free program called "Emergency Back-up Child Care" for parents with children under the age of 13, said Mr. Dove.

Toronto-Dominion Bank says its staffers have several options open to them, including working from home or adjusting their start and end times, if their job permits it; using back-up emergency daycare with a third-party provider in urban centres; and taking a personal or vacation day.

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