More than 50,000 Ontario education workers to strike on October 7

Oct 2 2019, 4:01 pm

More than 55,000 Ontario education workers plan to walk out of work Monday as the union representing them says a contract deal has yet to be reached.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario School Board Council of Unions announced the potential walkout Wednesday morning during a meeting at Queen’s Park, saying the school boards are using education workers’ work-to-rule job action as an excuse to cut programs, services, and staffing in Ontario schools.

Because of this, the union has given the required five days’ notice for escalating their job action to a full-fledged walkout that is scheduled to begin as early as Monday, October 7.

At the same time, CUPE has issued an invitation to the province and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA), urging them to bargain with the union around the clock beginning Friday, October 4, and work throughout the weekend in order to avoid the disruption that a full strike would bring to students, families, and schools.

CUPE says after years of Liberal underfunding, the Ford Conservatives have “made a bad situation even worse, cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from Ontario’s schools in just the last year.”

The cuts affect those that work as educational assistants, custodians, office administrators, early childhood educators, tradespeople, instructors, library technicians, speech pathologists, and IT specialists.

The union says these workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in Ontario’s public education system, with the majority of them being women, who face layoffs each summer.

“Enough is enough. CUPE Ontario education workers deserve respect. Students in our schools deserve properly funded, publicly delivered education services. Our communities need public services, not cuts,” said the union in a statement.

Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions says she hoped the work-to-rule would force the parties to get together and reach a deal.

“Without any justification whatsoever, some school boards are closing programs and sending workers home. Some boards are paying parents to do the work of CUPE members,” said Walton.

“Some are asking older students to collect younger students from the school bus. Across the province, boards are cutting services and putting students at risk,” said Walton, as she explained why she and her fellow CUPE members felt they had no choice but to escalate job action.

She emphasized that she was inviting the CTA and the ministry back to the table for “some hard, joint work” and assured members of the public, “if there is a deal to be had, CUPE will find it.”

More to come.

Ainsley SmithAinsley Smith

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