Ontario Files Application to Labor Board to End Strike by Education Workers

Province’s education minister says government is ‘using all available tools’ to end strike

The Ontario The government has filed a petition with the province’s labor board to halt industrial action by thousands of education workers who walked off the job on November 4.

In a Tweeter on the afternoon of November 4, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education said the government was “using all available tools” to “put an end to this strike and bring the children back to class.

“Immediately following the proclamation of the Keeping Students in Class Act, we filed a brief with the Ontario Labor Relations Board in response to CUPE’s request [Canadian Union of Public Employees’] illegal strike,” Lecce said.

“Nothing matters more right now than having every student in the classroom and we will use every tool at our disposal to do that.”

The The labor relations board began hearing arguments on Friday and the case is expected to continue over the weekend.

Education workers represented by CUPE gathered Friday at politicians’ offices, including the Lecce constituency office in Vaughan, Ont. A large crowd also picketed the Provincial Legislature at Queen’s Park.

A day earlier, the Ontario government passed Bill 28, the Keeping Students in Class Act, which imposed a four-year contract on some 55,000 CUPE workers. The bill also applies a notwithstanding clause, which allows the provincial legislature to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to resolve disputes involving school board employees.

CUPE demanded an 11.7% annual wage increase as well as overtime at twice the normal rate of pay, 30 minutes of paid prep time per day for teacher assistants and ECEs. On October 30, he gave the Ontario government five days notice, saying education workers would go on strike if his demands were not met.

CUPE said Nov. 3 that it had made a final offer of about half of what was originally offered, a pay raise of about 6%.

The government originally proposed increases of 2% per year for workers earning less than $40,000 and 1.25% for everyone else, but Lecce said the four-year deal would grant annual raises of 2.5% for workers earning less than $43,000 and 1.5% for everyone else. .

CUPE said the framing is not accurate because the increases are actually dependent on hourly wages and pay scales, so the majority of workers earning less than $43,000 a year would not get 2.5% .

The union has said the strike will continue indefinitely, and many Ontario school boards have announced school closures or a shift to online learning.

The education minister described the protest as “an unprecedented challenge for children”.

“We are using all the tools at our disposal to keep schools open”, Lecce writing on social media.

“Children should not pay the price for an education union’s desire for higher pay. It’s just not fair.

Bill 28 provides for fines of up to $4,000 per employee per day or up to $500,000 for the union for violating a strike ban.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report

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Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.