ONTARIO – Doug Ford’s government has promised to repeal Bill 28, the legislation that made the recent CUPE strike illegal and forced a contract on workers which had not been agreed upon. But now both parties are back at the bargaining table, and students are back in school. We asked people if they believe the premier will be able to seal the deal with the union. Many people don’t have faith that he will.
After a four-year-long tenure as premier, many people feel as though Doug Ford has shown his true feelings towards workers in the past, and probably won’t be reaching a fair deal with CUPE.
“I’m happy he reversed his decision, but I suspect Mr. Ford has got some other agendas,” said one man in Toronto.
“Doug you really took liberties to use a notwithstanding clause for education support workers that keep our school’s hallways clean, washrooms clean, that was not right,” he continued.
“I am an education assistant. Some kind of deal will be done, but will it be fair? Probably not, not to what we deserve because we do a lot of work,” another man shared with Brandon.
Taking a Look at the Strike
On the first day of strike action, the News You Can Use team headed down to Queen’s Park to scope out the scene. Through a thick crowd of CUPE employees and their allies, you could see hundreds of pink and white CUPE flags blowing in the wind, and hear the calls of workers demanding change.
“Workers united will never be defeated,” one woman called over a megaphone.
“If you look at the past we’ve only got 1%, not even 1%, 0.5% raises and people still go out and put their best in and do their job,” one woman in Queen’s Park told Brandon.
“Asking for [a raise of] three dollars an hour is not unreasonable whatsoever. If there’s anything that’s unreasonable it’s expecting to be able to live in the city with the 2% he’s offering,” said another.
“During the pandemic, they gave themselves a raise,” asked a third person.
“We all love what we do, we all love working with the kids, and the caretakers they enjoy doing what they’re doing. So why can’t we, who are looking after the next generation coming up, why can’t we get a raise as well?” asked a third.
By the time the weekend rolled around, rumors were swirling about the possibility of other unions across the province joining the strike. The leader of CUPE was also hinting at the possibility.
Then on Monday Ford’s government broke. Realizing they had overplayed their hand, the premier addressed the public, saying that he would repeal the legislation, under one condition.
“Our government is willing to rescind the legislation, we’re willing to rescind section 33, but only if CUPE agrees to show a similar gesture of good faith by stopping their strike,” said the premier, a complete 180 from his earlier move of pushing through legislation intended to stop the strike.
But CUPE held up their end of the deal, calling off the strike and heading back to the negotiation table to discuss things like increased wages. Throughout the strike action, union members have drawn attention to the low wages many of their members earn, with many earning $39,000 annually.
Both sides are back at the bargaining table, with Doug Ford promising to repeal Bill 28 on Monday, November 28th.
But what is the education minister saying about the situation? And who does the public blame for this ongoing struggle? We sink our teeth into the situation on this episode of News You Can Use.