What strike?

It’s been about a month since Rehan Ghani last read anything to do with a possible elementary school teacher strike.

Although the initial buzz is now barely a hum, Ghani, a father of two young children who attend Military Trail Public School, can’t help but wonder how this issue is progressing.

“I heard mention of this three or four weeks ago, and it really worried me,” Ghani said.
“Nobody wants to see the teachers go on strike.”

The Ghani family are tired of conflicting reports from the media of a possible elementary school strike.Ontario has about 73,000 elementary school teachers who are in a legal strike position as of the end of this month.

At the beginning of September, media articles outlining the possibility of a strike stirred up some personal worry according to Ghani.

So what’s the deal at this point?

“What we are dealing with here is entirely media speculation, we are nowhere even close to striking,” said Jim White, Duty Officer for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

April or May of next year would be a more likely time for something like a strike to take place, he said.

“The government is on a high horse about a three per cent salary increase. However, salary is not a concern. The problems are much deeper than that,” White said. “It’s way, way, way too premature to be talking about strike.”

In the last 10 years, elementary school teachers have not struck.

“There have been a couple of work-to-rule actions which means teachers do not participate in school activities beyond the ones stipulated in their contracts, which is quite different from striking,” said Nadia Bello, a TDSB trustee.

Gary Crawford, the chair of negotiations for the TDSB, says discussions are in progress.

“We are working towards a negotiated settlement with our union partners and we are confident that settlements will be reached,” he said.

According to Ghani, the media inflates strike talks.

“I think the media should be more responsible with the details they give out,” Ghani said.

“If the media is saying a strike may occur, and then people higher up are saying no way, confusion occurs.”

Ken Morden, Military Trail Public School’s principal, said every four years is a negotiating year.

“Every time there is a negotiating year, [information] hits the news and it sounds really extreme in every direction,” Morden said.

He said people should be wary about what they hear and read in regards to school issues.