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School strike: Ford says state will repeal law if CUPE ends strike

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A two-day strike by Ontario education officials that closed several schools across the province is over.

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Laura Walton, president of the union representing 55,000 workers, said she would accept Prime Minister Doug Ford’s offer to end the strike if the government withdrew a law banning strikes by imposing contracts. Announced.

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This will pave the way for students to return to class on Tuesday, but that will be confirmed by the school board.

At the Ottawa Catholic School Board, the board posted on social media when schools reopened and bus services resumed on Tuesday. said to provide.

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Walton, president of CUPE’s Union Board of the Ontario Board of Education, said it was a victory for union members, mostly women, who had been “overlooked, undervalued, legislated and impoverished”. rice field.

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“They took over the Ford government and the government blinked,” Walton exulted at a press conference around noon Monday, surrounded by a stage filled with leaders of state and federal unions.

Earlier in the morning, Prime Minister Ford offered CUPE an “olive branch” and said the government would repeal Bill 28 if CUPE members stopped striking and students could return to classes.

This law imposes contracts on CUPE members and invokes provisions notwithstanding Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which removes the right to bargain collectively and to strike.

Ford said he only resorted to using the exception clause because he wanted stability for students whose studies were interrupted for two years during the pandemic.

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“Students have been through a lot. They don’t deserve to be caught in the middle of these negotiations. is.”

The strike by CUPE members began Friday and continued Monday, with nearly 100 protest sites statewide.

At a press conference, Ford accused the union of stepping away from the negotiating table and demanding unreasonable price increases.

At her press conference, Walton said the CUPE team never left the negotiating table.

Last week, mediators ended negotiations between the parties on Thursday, saying the sides were too far apart.

Walton said the Ford government agreed in writing to repeal Bill 28.

When asked about the union’s next steps, she said they want to get back to negotiations.CUPE is in a legal strike position and may go on strike after five days’ notice.

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Walton said he wants a fair deal.

Ontario’s use of Bill 28’s “despite” clause has been criticized by labor groups, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others.

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A poll released by Abacus Data suggested the Conservative government’s handling of the controversy was unpopular.

A poll conducted November 4 and November 5 found that 62% of Ontario respondents most blamed the Ford government for closing schools because of the education workers’ strike. and 38% blame workers.

Half of those surveyed also supported more unions leaving their jobs to protest education workers, and 71% supported fair trade with education workers rather than the state government continuing with its current approach. would like to negotiate

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In Ottawa, the strike affected students at the Ottawa Catholic School Board and the Conseille des Ecoles Publice de Resto de Lontario. They transitioned to online learning at home on Monday.

The Ottawa Carlton District Board of Education and the Conseil des Ecoles Catholic du Center Est school remain open.

Union members demonstrated across Ottawa on Monday.

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On Monday morning on Greenbank Road in front of Nepean MP Lisa McLeod’s office, workers said they were waiting for instructions from CUPE leaders, but felt they had the support of the public. rice field.

“I will wait until CUPE tells me to return to the classroom,” said Erin Rundquist, an educational assistant. “I believe they know what they’re doing because they’re bigger than us now. Bigger than CUPE..”

Ms Rundquist, who started working for the Ottawa Catholic School Board in 2000, said she felt the support for her students was waning, but she didn’t think there was a problem with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. “We cut so many resources that we don’t have the resources to support our children,” she said.

“And then I got another job. I work 24/7 in a call center. And even then, it’s really hard. It’s really tight.”

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Lisa MacGregor, who has been with EA for 30 years, says she’s frustrated, angry, and more motivated than ever to keep picketing.

“Ford has been successful in getting all of our members involved in this issue. I know, because they feel like they’re against us.”

Bryan Lusage, chief negotiator for the Ontario Federation of Primary Teachers (ETFO) in Ottawa-Carlton, told picket participants that they were already taking important steps to gain public support.

“No. You’ll know right away,” he said, cheering as a honking car passed by. So it’s powerful.”

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Doug Oakman said he attended the protest to support his daughter, who is EA.

“The way they’re being treated is terrible, and how quickly the Ford administration jumped to the special clause,” Oakman said. “But I think for both sides and the parts that are struggling with having to do virtual schools again, and for the sale of the children, the union wants to get back on the table — so the government can do that. As long as they are true to their word, they are ready to negotiate.”

CUPE represents educational assistants, early childhood educators, administrators, parents, and a variety of other non-educational staff.

Many schools closed during statewide strikes because administrators decided it was unsafe to operate without CUPE members.

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Negotiations broke down last week. CUPE originally gave its legal strike notice on 4 November. The government last week imposed contracts on unions, responded with laws outlawing strikes, and invoked clauses to protect against legal challenges.

The law included fines of $4,000 a day for strikers and $500,000 a day for union members.

Education Minister Steven Lecce has warned that the government will use any means necessary to end illegal strikes that are harming children.

CUPE had accused the government of crushing the rights of minimum wage school workers whose wages had lagged inflation for a decade.

CUPE members earn an average of $39,000 annually. Many of our staff only work during the semester, and some work part-time.

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The largest single group of CUPE members are educational assistants who help children with special needs.

At the Ottawa Catholic School Board, teaching assistants earn between $27.25 and $29.46 an hour, depending on experience. This would make him $41,017 to $44,342 on a 10-month contract.

Early childhood educators who work alongside teachers in kindergarten classes earn between $20.17 and $28.58 an hour.

Board office managers earn between $23.17 and $27.94 an hour.

CUPE will initially offer an annual salary increase of $3.25 per hour per year, double the normal overtime rate, 30 minutes of paid preparation time per day for teaching assistants and ECEs, increased benefits, and professional competence for all employees. I was looking for development. Worker.

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At a press conference on Monday, Ford said CUPE is seeking wage and other compensation increases, totaling about 50%.

Walton dismisses the claim, calling it “a lot of creative mathematics.”

Walton previously said union counter-proposals filed last week cut wage proposals in half and made “substantial” moves in other areas.

With file by Joao Rausius

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School strike: Ford says state will repeal law if CUPE ends strike

Source link School strike: Ford says state will repeal law if CUPE ends strike

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