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It is a brand new school year and we have the Ontario provincial government and teachers at odds with each other; it seems that no one is happy. The Liberals with the help of the Conservatives has recently imposed legislation to ban strikes, freeze wages for two years, cut sick days from 20 per year to 10, no banking of sick days with no gratuity paid upon retirement.

The federations have responded with offers to agree to freeze wages for four years accept for a cost of living stipend. Ken Coran, President of the Ontario Secondary School Federation has proposed that older more expensive teachers at the maximum pay to be allowed to retire and be replaced with new teachers at approximately half of the senior teachers salaries.

The federations feel that the new legislation is contrary to the law and is willing to take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Last week some public school teachers for one day refuse to take part in extra-curricular activities such as sports and tutoring. As it is an extra there is no contractual obligations with absolutely no financial remuneration paid for the teacher for giving of their time after school.

Many of our dedicated teachers coach two sports a year that takes them away from home for many hours a week because they enjoy interacting with their students. Check out our cousins in the States and you will find that for the most part athletic coaches in high school do not teach, they coach.

So who wins and loses with the teachers and government at odds. Our teachers are unhappy that they do not have a voice in contractual negotiations. It is hard to take on the day in front of a class when you do not feel appreciated. The local Boards of Education that in the past bargained in good faith with teacherís unions are now not part and parcel of negotiating a contract.

Students who come into daily contact with their teachers will be on the side of their teachers hoping that they will be able to get on with teaching and not have interruptions to the school year as a result of work-to-rule or strikes.

Many parents will side with the government attempts to reign in the power of the teacher federations and cut the enormous debt. My column in the London Free Press advocating the "Amalgamating of Public and Catholic School Boards of Education" if implemented would save millions of tax payer dollars.

Teachers have rarely had good public relations with parents who see teaching as a very easy gig. Two months off in the summer, week-ends off, Christmas/Easter breaks along with good salaries and indexed pensions are what some of the public at large focuses on.

The public do not take into account the difficulty of teaching many students who come from troubled homes who are not interested in learning. Teacher burn out is a fact of life for far too many of our educators.

The recent provincial election in Kitchener where Conservative Liz Whitmeer. held the seat for many years, was lost to the New Democratic party in a bye election.
McGuinty is obligated to hold a provincial election by October 15th 2015. I wager that the teachers will work very hard to turf him and his party from power and elect a New Democratic Party to try and undo the wrong that they feel has been forced upon them.

In the end there are no winners and losers when people can not/do not want to come to a consensus on what constitutes a fair and just contract.

I am interested in your feed-back.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com