Photo Courtesy: CUPE Ontario, Twitter
ONTARIO – Parents across Ontario are furious with the Ford government for not reaching an agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and 55, 000 workers who plan to walk off the job this week. CUPE workers are planning to strike for more pay, saying they currently only make an average yearly salary of about $39K.
Following the announcement of the strike, the Toronto District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board revealed that they plan to close all schools this Friday for in-person learning.
“The David versus Goliath fight for Ontario school board workers started when the Ford government introduced the most draconian version of back-to-work legislation we have ever seen,“ said CUPE National President, Mike Hancock.
“They are invoking the Notwithstanding Clause – because they know that this legislation violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Hancock. “If this pandemic and the economic fallouts that came with it have taught us anything, it’s that workers in Canada need a strong union now, more than ever,” said Hancock.
Education Workers Protest
Hundreds of education workers and their allies rallied in downtown Toronto on Tuesday to protest the Ford government’s “Keeping Students in Schools Act,” which aims to impose a four-year contract on education workers and block them from striking before this Friday.
The “Hands Off Workers’ Rights” rally, organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), began at 5 p.m. outside the Ministry of Labour and moved to Queen’s Park later Tuesday evening.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce called for the union to cancel the strike and work with the ministry to “keep kids in the classroom”, with the government later rejecting an offer from the union.
CUPE officials have since affirmed their position, reiterating their plans to strike on Friday.
Canadian React to News of CUPE Strike
People of the internet have taken to social media to share their thoughts on the pending education workers’ strike.
“I might not agree with all their demand but I strongly agree with the right to strike. The province has no right to interfere with that right and to impose a contract. That’s extremely bad faith bargaining. All government union workers should be alarmed as their next,” shared one person on Twitter.
“While I don’t want any more disruptions to my children’s education, I am standing 100% in solidarity with the CUPE education workers. Pay the workers a living wage. It is that simple,” tweeted out a parent.
While others have pointed fingers at the Minister of Education, calling for him to work with education workers to reach an agreement.
“Where was this “make sure schools don’t close” energy 2 years ago when you voted against smaller class sizes? Or 1 year ago, when you wouldn’t #FreeTheRATs to our kids? Or when you took away access to PCR testing and refused to provide #PaidSickDays to Ontario parents?” one person asked the Minister directly on Twitter.
“Have you actually spent any time in schools lately? The kids are already suffering.. no supplies for sick teachers/office/janitorial staff, no EA in my kid’s kindergarten class, and overworked and underpaid support staff. Oh, and to top it off volunteers doing fundraisers…” pointed out another person in response to Lecce’s tweet.
How do you feel about the Ford government’s legislation? What about the pending education workers’ strike? Let us know in the comments!