The Ontario provincial government in Canada is using so-called 'Back to Work' legislation in a move to force high school teachers to end their strike in three school districts.

The strikes, which started in Durham on April 20th, are not primarily about salary increases, although teachers' leaders emphasise that like everyone else, teachers are struggling to keep up with cost of living rises. The state government is attempting to shore up its $10.9 billion budget deficit by attacking conditions in schools. Teachers point out that the government has lowered corporation tax from 14% to 11.5%, so like so many other governments faced with an economic crisis, the Ontario government is attacking public services while giving handouts to business.

The cuts would lift the cap on class sizes, meaning teachers would often be teaching larger classes and students would be unable to get the individual attention which they all need. And employers want to double the amount of time teachers spend doing duties outside of their core work of teaching, like covering for absent colleagues and supervising playground duty. Teachers in the province already work on average for 56 hours a week and cutting further into their self-directed time would make their workload unsustainable. Teachers also object to the introduction of standardised testing which they say is damaging children's education.

Now the government is attempting to force teachers to end their strikes, through the use of legislation. In a statement the high school teachers union, OSSTF, said: 'Nothing positive can ever come out of a legislated curtailment of a union’s fundamental right to bargain freely and to withdraw services when necessary.' Indeed the press is reporting much anger among teachers as a result of this move, which would see teachers fined $2000 a day for failing to observe the order to return to work, and the union fined $25,000 a day.