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Ontario Education Workers File Five-day Strike Notice

Centre Court Developments

Ontario education workers will be going on strike again after negotiations between CUPE and the government “broke down.” The two parties have been trying to reach an agreement for better wages, among other demands, as the workers have been without a contract since August.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has filed a five-day notice for a strike as “many late hour attempts to achieve a freely negotiated settlement” were made. Talks, however, “broke down” once again, according to the statement issued by CUPE. The strike will commence on Monday, November 21, but the union is still hopeful that a better offer will be brought to the table.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce responded by saying this decision made by CUPE has come too soon after negotiations restarted. In a statement, Lecce said, “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.”

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CUPE members are legally allowed to strike but have to give a five-day notice of their intentions, which they now have. CUPE represents about 55,000 education workers across Ontario who previously went on strike on November 4. This strike was called off on November 8 after the government rescinded the controversial notwithstanding clause and the two parties decided to restart negotiations.

Laura Walton, president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, said in a statement they are still hoping for a better offer from the government. “We remain at the bargaining table committed to achieving a freely negotiated collective agreement that meets the needs of students, families, and workers,” she stated.

The latest offer presented by the government, that has been revealed, 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. Since then, Doug Ford has said the government has presented CUPE an “improved offer” but its details have not been revealed. CUPE, on the other hand, has been asking for a salary raise of 11.7 percent for those making less than $40,000 annually.

Vineet Washington

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