An apparent curve-ball in the dispute between the McGuinty Government and education workers in Ontario.
Queen's Park has imposed wage-freeze contracts on most public school boards and their teacher unions under the Putting Students First Act. As part of this, the Education Minister also extended the contract between the Toronto District School Board and the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council.
It was skilled trades council that was costing taxpayers millions of dollars because of overcharging. That includes the bill for $143 to put in a pencil sharpener.
The chair of the school board, Chris Bolton has sent a letter to Education Minister Laurel Broten essentially saying her interference in this matter has left the board in an untenable situation as it struggles with its capital and operating budgets.
Monday evening, the minister fired back basically saying the board had plenty of time to negotiate an agreement, (that being from last August until the end of December) and insisting the imposed deal "has no bearing on the board's ability to control spending or to work with the union to manage the cost of maintenance and repairs."
Broten then added this line, "Under the Putting Students First Act, local agreements can be reopened by mutual consent of the parties to address local issues."
No more clarity was provided but it raises questions about whether all the imposed teacher contracts could be reopened if the union locals and their school boards agreed to do so.
(with files by D. Agar)