Education workers striking was something of a provincial trend in the latter months of 2019, and that looks like continuing in 2020. Talk of action has loomed over the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and it's now been announced that changes will begin on Monday, Jan. 13. A rotating Ontario elementary teachers strike is set to start on Jan. 20 unless the government relents on its stance.

According to CTV News, if there isn't any significant progress in contract talks, elementary teachers across the province will mirror the action taken by their secondary school counterparts.

Starting Monday, Jan. 13, educators have said they will not supervise extra-curricular activities or even participate in field trips as the first stage of the job action, according to CBC.

"This government's approach to education sector contract talks is a sham," said ETFO president Sam Hammond in a statement

"The government representatives have confirmed that they have no mandate to negotiate issues beyond cuts."

By Jan. 17, if the government refuses to address "critical issues", the ETFO says they will fully withdraw services through rotating strikes.

The key issues, according to Hammond, are for more supports for students with special needs, addressing violence in schools, and also preserving full-day kindergarten.

Hammond adds in the ETFO statement that in six months of contract talks, the government negotiators have actually only talked about cuts to the current education program. These cuts, Hammond states, include "a $150 million cut to public elementary education."

Along with those issues, elementary teachers are also looking to get higher wage increases than what has been offered by the government. 

In taking this planned action the ETFO would follow in the footsteps of the OSSTF. Back in December, Ontario secondary school teachers also took part in strikes for the first time in 22 years.

Since November 2019, the teachers have been staging an administrative work-to-rule campaign but they say it'll start picking up speed now, starting with the suspension of supervising activities.

The statement clarifies: "As part of ETFO’s updated work-to-rule action, educators will not arrive to work earlier than 30 minutes before the start of the instructional day and will leave within 15 minutes at the end of the instructional day. They will not plan or participate in any assemblies except to provide supervision to students."

According to CBC, the union which represents Catholic teachers also began a work-to-rule campaign that started earlier this week.

Narcity has reached out to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and school boards including the TDSB for comment.

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