Deal guarantees school labour peace in Ontario

  • June 19, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - The union representing Ontario’s Catholic teachers and the association for Catholic trustees have signed off on a new, province-wide framework agreement aimed at four more years of labour peace in the province’s schools.
The framework sets the table for local bargaining between union locals and boards across the province. Most current contracts are scheduled to run out in August.

Under the framework teachers are in line for three-per-cent raises in each year of the agreement, boards promise to restrict the size of Grade 4-8 classes and the province will provide funds for increased hiring of specialist teachers for art, music and other subjects.

It’s the second time the province has negotiated a four-year framework agreement. If the unions and boards negotiate deals under the framework the governing Liberals avoid strikes before the next election in 2011.

Though the framework agreement has the support of OECTA union brass, not all the teacher’s unions have bought into the deal. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, representing public school teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 8, walked away from the table demanding wage parity between high school and elementary school teachers.

For the Catholic teachers the wage offer was good enough, said OECTA president Elaine MacNeil.

“It seemed to be where the public sector agreements were coming down,” she told The Catholic Register.

MacNeil praised the provincial pre-bargaining sessions for their focus on the health of the education system.

“Conversations between the parties, with the trustees and the government, were very professional,” she said. “They were very focussed on the benefit of the students and working conditions of the teachers. Those two things are inextricably linked.”

The framework agreement isn’t a guarantee there won’t be strikes or difficulties in local negotiations, said MacNeil. But she praised the framework concept for providing “stability.”

The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association wouldn’t speak with The Register about the framework agreement, citing ongoing local negotiations.

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