POLITICS

Job action planned by some Ontario high school teachers cancelled

11/06/2012 10:41 EST | Updated 01/06/2013 05:12 EST
TORONTO - Some Ontario high school teachers will no longer be ramping up their job action on Wednesday.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation had instructed its members who are in a legal strike position to skip staff meetings and forgo standardized tests starting on Wednesday.

But in a release issued late Tuesday night, OSSTF President Ken Coran said the union has been communicating with government representatives in "interest of going forward and seeking resolutions to the challenges facing the education sector."

The teachers group says it plans to meet with government officials on Wednesday to "fast track to potential resolutions."

As a result, the OSSTF now says it is delaying planned labour sanctions until just before midnight on Sunday.

OSSTF, which represents about 60,000 members, is among three unions which have been fuming over the new anti-strike law brought in by the cash-strapped Liberal government, which also cuts benefits and freezes the wages of senior teachers.

"We are pleased that OSSTF has decided to delay strike action and instead focus on finding solutions by working with the government and school boards," Education Minister Laurel Broten said in a statement.

"We need all of our partners in education to work with us to find solutions that put the success of our students first. We're looking forward to further discussions in the days ahead."

In the previously planned Wednesday job action, local bargaining units could have decided to instruct teachers to stop doing other tasks as well, such as not submitting student attendance or participating in curriculum or course writing.

The union had said the action wasn't designed to "negatively impact" students and that teachers were still to provide instruction, do course preparation and marking and provide extra help.

The governing Liberals have warned that they can intervene under the new law.

Broten has said that the government could impose a new collective agreement, effectively ending any strike action. It could also intervene outside of imposing an agreement.

Some teachers who aren't necessarily in a strike position have already withdrawn from voluntary activities such as coaching and parent-teacher meetings in protest of the controversial law.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has advised its 76,000 members to write only the bare minimum on report cards.