While students are getting ready to go back to school in a few days, the Ontario government and the teachers’ union and boards are wrestling with each other over benefits and raise in wages.
The government wants to balance its books by 2015 and wants the public sector to be reasonable, however these unions’, of course, want better deals for their teachers. So far only one union and board combination, the Toronto Catholic School Board, has reached an agreement with the government.
On Tuesday, teachers protested at Queen’s Park against ‘education Premier’s’ legislation that imposes a two-year wage freeze and curbs collective bargaining rights. The legislation will also impose three unpaid days off, halve the number of annual sick days to 10, stop unused sick days from being banked and cashed out at retirement, and ban strikes and lockouts for two years.
To be fair, to average Ontarian introducing a legislation to get teachers’ contract from expiring seems going a little too far. Shouldn’t the government have tried its utmost best to bargain at the negotiating table rather than at the legislature?
It can be argued that the government tried to negotiate with teachers’ unions in the past few weeks, however families that were away during summer and are just about to get ready to send their kids back to school have just tuned into this issue. Additionally, when you throw in the two by-elections that are to take place and see the bigger picture, the government’s intentions seem to be less than angelic.
Opposition leader Tim Hudak has said that the Progressive Conservatives’ will support the government’s legislation which will most likely be passed as early as next week.
Even if the government comes out as a winner in this matter, it will create resentment among teachers and other public sector unions. PCs are likely to benefit from all of this as Mr. Hudak has been calling in for reigning in wages and bonuses for the public sector.