Ontario teachers strike for jobs
By Paul Howes and Becky Ellis
More than 126,000 teachers in Ontario, Canada have launched an indefinite strike. The teachers, from both public and private schools, walked out of school on October 27. Negotiations broke down on November 5.
More than 2.1 million students are affected by the strike against Bill 160, introduced by Premier Mike Harris, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. Bill 160 empowers the government to make decisions regarding the education system without consulting teachers and parents. Some 10,000 jobs are in jeopardy and increased class sizes are likely.
The strike has been declared illegal by the provincial government, which means the teachers are not entitled to strike pay. Sandra Szpluar, a striking teacher from Guelph, Ontario, told Green Left Weekly, "We are struggling to survive without pay, but we shall continue to stay in the streets until the government meets our demands".
Although the government and establishment media have launched a vicious campaign against the strike, support for the teachers is widespread. Students, principals, secretaries and janitors have all participated in the teachers' picket lines.