Opening Statement



Saturday, 26 May 2012

A Late May PDT Update!

As of last week OECTA was the last remaining teachers' association at the PDT (provincial discussion table). All the other teacher associations have walked out, making it seem quite likely that we will have a long hot summer settling teacher contracts by August 31. What are the current odds of possible teacher job action including work to rule or a strike during the 2012-13 school year? Consider it about 50 percent, if there isn't a break through soon. Of course the membership would have to vote on any job actions first, but with the government standing fast on its position, one wonders how many members are going to favour:

A 2 year pay and grid freeze?

A reduction of sick days from 20 to 6?

A loss of accumulated sick days and a retirement gratuity?

A provincial government plan to cut its contributions to our pension plan?

OECTA can be expected to walk away from the table after it has exhausted all reasonable chance of pursuing the negotiations successfully. One has to think that could be very soon.

There has been some speculation on a possible split within the Liberal cabinet on the PDT talks. With Premier McGuinty apparently lining himself up for a run at the federal Liberal party leadership race as the longest reigning Liberal leader in Canada, the Ontario Liberal Party could be also faced with a leadership race too. One scenario has former Education Minister and current Municipal Minister Kathleen Wynne not on the same page as current Education Minister Laurel Broten and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan with the PDT talks.

Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwarth remains silent on the teacher PDT issue and word is that the recent party policy conference was hardly a labour love in. Andrea is now trying to move her party more to the political centre, with increased seats and a potentially unstable minority government situation.

Provincial Conservative leader Tim Hudak remains far out in the cold Ontario political wilderness with an even harder party line on public service cuts. With possible teacher job actions this fall one has to wonder if his position will not gain favour in the year ahead, although at present the Liberals seem to have out Tory'd the Tory's with their PDT position. It is certainly a big change for a party that has enjoyed huge teacher support in the last three provincial elections and has promoted itself as the education party.

As the saying goes "It isn't over until it's over" but right now the possibility of a settlement at the PDT and with our school board contract talks before August 31st looks quite bleak indeed!


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