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Hamilton elementary teachers stage one-day strike Dec. 17

The Hamilton-Wentworth public elementary teachers, occasional teachers and designated early childhood educators are holding a one-day strike on Monday, Dec. 17 to protest Bill 115.

RELATED: Hamilton students urged to stay in class while protesting Bill 115

The Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher, Occasional Teacher and Designated Early Childhood Educators locals moved into a legal strike position on Dec. 10. According to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), they received no board reports through the conciliator appointed by the Ministry of Labour to resolve the bargaining impasse with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB). During a vote on Sept. 24, the local received overwhelming mandates for strike action from its members.

The one-day, legal strike is expected to take place on Monday only. Classes, according to the HWDSB, will resume the following day.

Parents are encouraged to make child care arrangements, as classes and transportation will be cancelled.

“We are committed to student safety at Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board,” said board chair Tim Simmons. “Without teachers in our schools, it will not be possible to maintain a safe environment for our students. Therefore, we are cancelling all classes and transportation at all elementary schools on Monday, Dec. 17.”

Child care services offered in Hamilton public schools will continue to operate for those students already registered in the program. Parenting and Family Literacy Centres will also remain open on Dec. 17.

The one-day strike, says the ETFO, is part of the locals’ continued objection of Bill 115, which teachers and staff claim is “severely impeding local collecting bargaining.”

“Educators have been stripped of their democratic rights. If we don’t stand up to draconian laws like Bill 115, then who will?” said Tamara DuFour, president of the Hamilton-Wentworth Designated Early Childhood Educators Local.

“We do not take this action lightly. The loss of local autonomy is very destructive for a local bargaining process that has worked well for decades,” said Lisa Hammond, president of the Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local.

Added Rian McLaughlin, president of the Hamilton-Wentworth Occasional Teacher Local, “The education minister told the public for months that Bill 115 would bring labour peace but it has had entirely the opposite effect, which is very unfortunate for everyone.”

Additional information about the one-day strike is available on the HWDSB web site (www.hwdsb.on.ca).

We know this situation is challenging for everyone and regret the inconvenience this may cause,” said Simmons. “At HWDSB, we remain committed to successfully negotiating contracts with our employee groups for the benefit of our students.”

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