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Education director ‘watching anxiously’ as bargaining continues

Published on

Heather Wright

Special to the Journal

The head of the public school board hopes to avoid a teachers’ strike.

But Lambton-Kent District School Board Director of Education, Jim Costello, says there is a possibility students in the area could be affected by a work stoppage yet this year.

Teachers in the Durham region walked off the job last week. They and six other Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation units were bargaining with the province. But the premier was very clear there would be no money for raises this year.

That led to the walkout.

Costello says contract negotiations this year are more difficult than in the past. The local boards meet with their teachers’ bargaining unit to deal with any local issues – but the province, the union and representatives from the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association meet to talk about monetary issues in Toronto.

Costello says a number of dates have been set for local bargaining. “Our relations are good with our teachers; it’s very amicable,” he says. “The provincial bargaining – it seems it is not going very well… we’re sitting and watching anxiously.”

Costello says it is business as usual at Lambton-Kent schools, but it is possible, even if the board and its teachers can reach an agreement on local issues, that there would be a strike because of the provincial stand. “It is possible that we could at some point this spring, we could be impacted.

“We’re nowhere near that now.”

Costello says the board plans to keep families up-to-date with the local negotiations through its website where a special section has been set up just for labour relations news.

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