Teachers in the Canadian province of Ontario have held a one-day strike against a controversial bill that would freeze their wages and strip them of their collective bargaining rights. Some 35,000 teachers, which make up nearly half of all elementary school teachers, went on strike on Tuesday in protest against Bill 115, which will dictate contract terms, freeze wages for two years and prohibit strikes. The bill is planned to go into effect on January 1. The Tuesday strike kept 400,000 students from going to school and was the biggest of a series of one-day strikes, which began on December 15 and has since then been rotating between various schools.
“This is hitting all Canadians,” said a teacher, adding, “We’re out here doing this for every Canadian. This is against our Charter of Rights. So this is a small stand that we’re doing. One day, but it’s important to us.”Unions argue that the bill violates their right to collective bargaining and has restricted efforts to make fair agreements with school boards. Officials say that they are imposing the bill as a financial necessity. If no agreement is reached before the December 31 deadline, a deal will take effect freezing the salaries of many educators and cutting back benefits. Union President Sam Hammond said that teachers will stage a one-day “political protest” in the beginning of the new year if the deal is forced on them. CAH/HSN/HJL