ONTARIO: First Unified Teacher Strike since 1997

strike

By: Emily K.

Friday February 21st – Teachers partook in a province wide strike against government cutbacks to education. In the latest of a series of strikes, teachers continue to express their grievances against the increase of class sizes, the removal of special education funding and mandatory online courses.

The four largest teachers’ unions in the province partook in the day long strike: the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO). This has been the first unified strike by all major teachers’ unions since 1997.

Members of the Revolutionary Students Movement (RSM) showed continued support for teachers in their struggle by joining and interacting with them on the picket line. The students have built recognition with the teachers, who have been enthusiastic about RSM presence. Going forward the RSM hopes to build greater networks of solidarity between striking teachers and other workers in their struggles.

There exist concerns amongst striking teachers that these cuts may pave the way for a greater trend in privatized education in Canada, leaving public schools in disarray for the poorest of students.

Cuts to the public education system have been ongoing for years in Ontario prior to cuts by the Ford Conservatives; the Conservatives simply took the same action the Liberal Party did in 2015 but with more open disdain towards working class families.

The dedication teachers have to their struggle is admirable as they continue to strike, though striking is only the first step. The cuts to education by the Ford government are only a symptom of the root problem: capitalism. Ford is nothing more than a spineless lackey for the ruling capitalist class who have nothing to lose, and everything to gain from the defunding of education. For the capitalist, equal access to quality education for all is an obstacle to greater profits. As long as education is controlled by capitalists and is used as a tool to make profits, all working families will be at risk of having their futures taken from beneath them.

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