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Education Workers Deliver Strike Notice

By Mike Ebbeling Nov 16, 2022 | 11:20 AM

Education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees have served five days’ strike notice.

The central bargaining committee, negotiating for 55,000 frontline staff, says it was able to reach a middle ground with the Ford government on wages.

However, CUPE says the government refuses to invest in vital and improved services.

Representative Laura Walton says the province refuses to put money on the table to give students the type of learning environment they need, especially those with special needs.

Walton says they have heard from parents desperate for improvements.

She admits this is not where they want to be but stresses government offers don’t include any new money for students.

The union says it has been negotiating for 167 days with proposals crafted from input by families.

Today’s notice from education workers means a strike is possible starting on Monday, November 21 if a deal can’t be reached.

All parties returned to the bargaining table last week after the province promised to repeal Bill 28, which came to pass on Monday.

Among the asks from the union contained in a media release:

  • Enough educational assistants so all students get the supports they need and so schools could stop sending kids home because there isn’t an EA available;
  • An early childhood educator in every kindergarten classroom so every four- and five-year-old would get the play-based learning support that’s especially necessary now after two years of pandemic isolation;
  • Enough library workers to make sure school libraries are open and reading opportunities are available to kids all the time;
  • Enough custodians to keep schools clean and enough maintenance workers and tradespeople to begin to tackle the $16 billion repair backlog;
  • Adequate staffing of secretaries in school offices and enough lunchroom supervisors to keep students safe.

The union claims the Ford government cut education funding by at least $800 per student over its first term and with two million students in Ontario’s schools, that amounted to a $1.6 billion cut
in funding last year alone.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says they offered $335 million more over four years for CUPE workers alone.

In a statement, Lecce says, “We are disappointed that only a few short days after talks restarted, CUPE has filed a notice to once again shut down classrooms. Since resuming talks, we’ve put forward multiple improved offers that would have added hundreds of millions of dollars across the sector, especially for lower-income workers. CUPE has rejected all of these offers. We are at the table ready to land a fair deal that invests more in lower-income workers and keeps kids in class.”


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