High school teachers in Durham strike today leaving thousands without classes

By on April 20, 2015

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TORONTO — About 24-thousand high school students in Durham Region will be staying home today as their teachers hit the picket lines.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation decided over the weekend to proceed with strike action after talks broke down last week.

Durham region covers an area east of Toronto that includes Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

The school board says it had no choice but to close schools because of concern for the safety of students.

The union announced Monday morning that talks with the province were to resume but did not say when.

This is the union’s first round of negotiations since the province brought in a new bargaining system, with both local and provincial talks.

Education Minister Liz Sandals says she’s disappointed about the strike but says the government is committed to a bargaining process that is in line with its fiscal plan.

Three years ago the Liberal government legislated contracts and wage freezes on the teachers, angering the unions.

The relationship has since slowly improved but unhappiness is brewing once again as the Liberals try to eliminate a $10.9-billion budget deficit through measures that include “net zero” increases in contract negotiations.