OSSTF head wants 'guarantee' before restoring school activities

02/14/2013 11:25 EST | Updated 04/16/2013 05:12 EDT
The head of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation says the first step toward bringing back extracurricular activities is a "guarantee" that their members will be able to negotiate their next contract.

OSSTF president Ken Coran told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Thursday that union members want assurance that "democratic rights will be restored."

"It would be to establish a process for the next round of collective bargaining," he told CBC host Matt Galloway. "One that's fair, one that's transparent, and as I say, one that protects democratic rights and allows people to vote on contracts as opposed to having something imposed on them … It's step one."

Coran's comments come ahead of an OSSTF meeting on Thursday with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, in an effort by the Liberal government to bring back extracurricular activities in public schools.

Ontario public school teachers have been refusing to supervise activities such as sports teams and student clubs in response to a labour dispute with the province.

Last month, the Ontario government imposed a two-year contract on public school teachers. Union leaders, including Coran, criticized the move, saying it effectively removed their right to collective bargaining.

Coran said he was "cautiously optimistic" ahead of Thursday's meeting.

"Certainly, whenever dialogue starts, there's always hope, and good wishes and collaboration that takes place. And I think that's the starting point," he said.

The new premier met with public elementary teachers on Wednesday, and said government officials and union leaders were having "productive conversations".

"I’m looking forward to a good outcome, I hope in the near future," Wynne told reporters.