Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) are currently on strike, with teachers’ autonomy and class size being two of the most contentious issues. Socialist.ca visited a picket line in the Region of Peel and spoke to two striking teachers.
Teachers and support staff in 35 OSSTF districts have been without a contract since August 2014. Their most recent contract was imposed by the Ontario government in 2012 through Bill 115—repressive legislation that stripped away bargaining rights and gutted a number of other provisions.
One striking teacher in District 19 Peel said: “The school boards met with our union only four times in the 4½ months before we announced we were going on strike. And they were short meetings, nothing much was accomplished. As soon as we announced that we were going on strike, they were negotiating every day. It was only by striking that management came to the table. . . . Right now, the board is proposing that principals have the authority to dictate every minute of the teachers’ day. What we do during our prep periods, what we do after school – to have that questioned, that we’re not using our time effectively, it’s really hurtful. We need the respect that we can make our decisions concerning our time.”
Another striking teacher said: “They are trying to set it up so that administrators can assign duties to teachers during prep time, duties which may have nothing to do with their lessons or may not even have anything to do with teaching. Not having that time results in a loss of quality for the students’ education. And we have a real serious problem with that. . . . The province also wants to remove the cap on class size. Numerous studies have shown that an increase in overall class size results in a direct loss of education quality. Students receive less one-on-one time, less progressive assessment. As a result, they’re not getting the standard of education that they and their parents expect.”
Join OSSTF for a rally at Queen’s Park on Thursday May 14 at 11:30am