Education Workers Strike Ends November 8 Following Ford Government’s Announcement
Following the provincial government taking back its controversial notwithstanding clause earlier today, thousands of education workers across Ontario are calling off strike action starting November 8. Education workers across Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, and other regions will return to work tomorrow.
Today morning, Ontario’s Premiere Doug Ford announced that his government is willing to rescind the legislation that deemed education worker strike to be illegal if CUPE backs down and the workers return to classrooms. Now, CUPE has responded at a press conference and said that it will “collapse all protest sites” from tomorrow given that the controversial legislation is not in effect anymore.
National CUPE president, Mark Hancock, said, “Bill 28 (Keeping Students in Class Act 2022) is a direct threat to workers’ rights and to Charter rights of all Canadians.” Praising the gathering of workers who stood their ground and protested, Hancock said the movement made the government blink.
However, a satisfactory deal has not yet been struck between the government and the CUPE. The protest has been called off as a gesture of good faith and CUPE Ontario school boards leader Laura Walton hopes it will be met with a similar gesture on the bargaining table. She added that workers now have their bargaining rights back.
CUPE, which represents 55,000 education workers, and Ford’s government have been trying to negotiate a new contract that improves the wages of education workers. They have been without a contract since August. The latest offer by the government was a newly proposed four-year deal that will give workers making less than $43,000 a year a 2.5 percent raise and a 1.5 percent raise to all others. CUPE, on the other hand, asked for a salary raise of 11.7 percent for those making less than $40,000 annually.
After CUPE’s refusal of the offer, the government imposed it as Bill 28 which not only prevents workers from walking off the job but also includes a daily fine of up to $4,000 for workers who break the terms of the legislation. The union itself could be fined $500,000. Now, the notwithstanding clause has been rescinded and the strike has been called off.