Labour to stand behind teachers
By Sara Marett
Lucky number three did not prove to be so fortunate for teachers yesterday as the third day of their provincial strike was met with aggressive action by the government.
The Ministry of Education and the teachers' federations will go head to head in Ontario Court tomorrow as hearings begin to determine whether there will be an interlocutory injunction to send the teachers back to work.
"The judge will hear presentations from both sides in order to make a decision regarding the injunction," said Ann McLaughlin, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General. It is hard to determine how long this process will take, she said.
The Attorney General is exercising its responsibility to the public by ensuring the laws are respected, McLaughlin said. She added it must be determined whether or not the teachers' strike is in the best interest of the public.
Eileen Lennon, president of the Ontario Teachers' Federation, said the teachers' federations are not commenting on the injunction other than saying they will be in court on Friday to defend their position.
"The support we have had from the parents, students and unions has been excellent we've even had support from the U.S.," she said. What most people are concerned about is not just the changes to the education system but the incredible centralization of power on behalf of the government, she said.
As the government steps in with proposed action against the teachers, other unions are holding true to their commitment to share the teachers' fight. "If the government introduces aggressive action, the teachers will have the whole labour movement behind them, which would turn into a general strike," said Jim Squires, president of the London district of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The government figures they have a good case, but we don't think it will actually go through, he said. "They are going to have a hard time proving the strike is causing irreparable damage."
The London district labour council is also in full support of the teachers. "We see this as much broader than just a teachers' strike it's about the centralization of government power," said Tony Huys, a member of the council.
It is an assault on the rights of all workers in the social programs, Huys said. He added he had received a letter from the Nurses Association, also expressing their support for the teachers.
Meanwhile, on the picket lines, teachers are beginning to protest in fewer locations, but larger groups. Yesterday, Members of Provincial Parliament Dianne Cunningham and Bob Wood's offices reported teachers peacefully protesting at their locations.