TORONTO, Jan. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public School Boards'
Association (OPSBA) has always been committed to working with our
member boards, their employee groups and the government to reach fair
and equitable new contracts. Collective bargaining is a process that
must lead to an improvement in student learning conditions. Labour
peace is also a critical element in creating the conditions necessary
for student success.
School boards and their associations have invested thousands of hours in
an attempt to find mutually agreeable solutions that provided some
much-needed negotiating room in the bottom-line parameters introduced
by the government in February 2012. OPSBA contends that the bargaining
process currently in place in Ontario works when school board employers
and employees can sit down together to negotiate issues best understood
by those parties.
"School boards operate at the local level and they understand the needs
of students in their communities. Just as importantly, they have the
moral and legal responsibility to represent student and community
interests," said Michael Barrett, president of OPSBA.
The work that school boards and OPSBA engaged in in the fall with union
leaders has had a beneficial impact on tentative deals and has led to
added provisions that are more effective in supporting students,
teachers, and school morale than the original OECTA deal. One such
improvement involved introducing an incentive in the sick leave
provisions that provides greater financial security and support for
employees experiencing lengthy illnesses.
School boards in this province are committed to doing their part in
Ontario's current fiscal climate, and will support a course of action
that enhances the success of students, and ensures the role of school
boards in the democratic process. The events of the last 11 months have
demonstrated the need for a fair legislated structure for collective
bargaining that takes into account the necessity for a provincial
approach on monetary and systemic issues and, equally importantly, the
necessity for a strong role in this structure for school boards both at
the local and provincial level.
"School boards are the employers, they are on the ground, and they are
positioned to assess when negotiated provisions are good for students,"
said Michael Barrett.
The interests of our students, and the uninterrupted progress of their
education must remain our first priority. This is what parents and the
public expect of us and what our students deserve.
SOURCE: Ontario Public School Boards' Association
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