The Struggle Continues Against Bill 115!
Translated from: UCL
By: Bruno Cormier
It was under the pretext of a $14.8 billion deficit that Dalton McGuinty’s minority Liberal government, with the support of the Conservative Party passed the special law Bill 115 – ironically entitled the "Putting Students First Act". Not only does it enforce a 2 years strike ban on teachers (while there was actually no threat of strike), but also cuts their sick days in half, abolishes remuneration of 3 off-days and imposes a 2 years wage freeze. This attack on collective bargaining of the working conditions of teachers present great similarities with such union-busting legislation in several states of USA.
Vis-a-vis such an affront from the Boss-State, the province’s larger unions of elementary and high school teachers were quick to respond to the Ontario government. The draconian legislation, which should interpellate all union members coast-to-coast, will be challenged in Supreme Court of Canada. On August 28th, a 5,000 person demonstration was held at Toronto’s Queen Park. Other rallies took place at various locations across the province. A teacher’s resolution to end extracurricular activities is also widely followed in order to add pressure on the government, in hope of a real negotiation of working conditions. Although teachers' unions previously invested millions of dollars to help the Liberals’ re-election, Premier McGuinty reaffirmed he would not back down on its decision to impose a wage freeze to teachers.
While several teachers’ unions start to run strike votes, defying the Boss-State’s special law, a new wave of student protest start to unfurl in Ontario’s high schools. This one opposes to Bill 115 and the extracurricular activities cuts, and clearly shows solidarity with teachers. Walk-outs are spreading quickly. On the 13th and 14th of September, students of Thornhill and Maple high schools in York Region walked-out and chanted slogans outside their school following rapid mobilization through social networks. The 13th, hundreds of students of Kawartha Lakes (IE Weldon High School) and Fenelon Falls did the same. Monday, in Brampton, at Bramalea high school, around 300 high school students walked-out with the hope that this wave of protests could spread. And hopes were not in vain: walk-outs have continued with consistency across the province, while a successful rally was held at Queens Park this past Saturday attracting high school and post secondary students, labour, and community organizations.
This means it’s not impossible to believe that the much needed social response to the government’s union-busting legislation might be just around the corner. Ready or not, the ‘wait and see’ is no option. Get up, Stand up!
Solidarity with teachers and students struggle! An injury to one is an injury to all.