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OSSTF Hold Hour Long Protest

Secondary School teachers across the province rallied together Wednesday afternoon. They were protesting their democratic rights and the loss of free collective bargaining in the continuing fight against Bill 115. In Oxford County, about 100 teachers gathered in Woodstock outside MPP Ernie Hardeman's office. One of them was a teacher from College Ave. Laurie MacDonald. "We're hoping to bring public awareness to Bill 115 and to make the Liberal Leadership candidates realize that they need to repeal this bill and to bargain collectively. This contract has been imposed, it's not really a contract at all, it's simply and imposition," said MacDonald. They staged a one hour protest after being told by the Ontario Labour Relations Board that a full day strike was illegal. "I think the public needs to become informed about the issues and to realize that this affects everyone. These are fundamental democratic rights in a democratic society. Everybody has the right to bargain, everybody has the right to gather collectively and to have their rights respected and to negotiate with their employer. Laurel Broten is not our employer, the school boards are our employer," said MacDonald. Ewan Mackintosh, a teacher at Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute, is also upset that the contract was imposed on them rather than negotiated. "We weren't looking for a wage increase. We had agreed that we could save the government $450 million by administering our own benefits package, they did not want us to do that," said Mackintosh. He says his students are upset that their extra curricular activities have been taken away in the midst of the protesting. "They're not very happy, but I think they understand that we're not doing it because we're malicious or lazy, we're doing it because we'd like our working conditions to be as good as they can possibly be," said Mackintosh. Teachers held signs saying "negotiate don't dictate" and "stop bullying education workers." Similar protests were held in regions across Ontario.

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