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Ontario high school teachers vote in favour of strike

About 5,000 teachers and education workers gathered outside the provincial legislature at Queens Park on Aug. 28 2012 to protest against a controversial bill that would impose wage freezes on Ontario teachers. The teachers voted in favour of strike Sept. 26, 2012, despite Bill 115 preventing them from striking.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

High school teachers have voted in favour of a strike, but union leaders say they won't be walking out any time soon.

Toronto members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) voted 93.4 per cent in favour, matching an appetite for job action expressed in votes held across the province.

Teachers have been angry with the Ontario government for legislating the terms of their contracts through Bill 115, which also restricts their ability to strike.

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"The vote shows the level of discontent with the undemocratic principles contained in Bill 115," said OSSTF president Ken Coran.

That discontent has manifested in teachers at both the elementary and secondary levels cutting back on the time they volunteer with students. Sports teams and clubs have been cancelled and teachers have declined to stay after school for parent-teacher meetings and extra-help sessions.

Results from strike votes being held by the elementary teachers' union are expected in October.

Asked whether he could rule out a teacher strike this school year, Mr. Coran said union leaders were trying to stay positive. He said he was hopeful that local bargaining units could reach a deal with school boards before a Dec. 31st deadline, and pointed to the fact that teachers had already agreed to a wage freeze.

He agreed that issues such as experience-based pay raises for younger teachers and sick days have been more controversial.

"Those are issues we believe we can solve," he said.

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About the Author
Education reporter

Kate Hammer started her journalism career in New York, chasing crime and breaking news for The New York Times. She came to the Globe and Mail in 2008 to do much of the same and ended up investigating allegations of animal cruelty and mismanagement at the Toronto Humane Society. More


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