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Ontario Premier Doug Ford making an announcement.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford making an announcement.

A two-day strike by Ontario's education workers is in the rearview mirror and with students back in the classroom, CUPE and the Ford are also back at the bargaining table — and it seems like tension is building again.

CUPE has called on the Ford government to stop making public comments about the ongoing contract negotiations and said it will be doing the same.

"“The CUPE-OSBCU central bargaining committee, made up of frontline education workers from across Ontario, is currently in mediation with the singular focus of negotiating a collective agreement that meets the needs of students, parents, and workers. We will be limiting our comments to the media while in mediation to better direct our efforts to reaching a freely negotiated agreement," said the bargaining committee in a statement. "We respectfully call on the Ford government to make the same commitment, refrain from making comments that distract from negotiations, and spend the time working to get a deal done for student success and good jobs.”

The statement follows three news conferences in as many days for Premier Doug Ford where he took questions on a wide variety of topics and it was no surprise that contract negotiations kept coming up.

"The mediators asked me not to talk about it," Ford said Wednesday when asked about reports of a two-tiered offer in the works, which CUPE had publicly said it wouldn't accept.

But instead of just ending it there, he continued.

"We're going to focus on the low-paid workers. That's our goal," said Ford. "You have to differentiate between someone that's making roughly about $40,000 a year versus someone that's making $100,000 a year. So, I want to work collaboratively with CUPE and other partners to make sure we take care of those lowest-paid people within CUPE."

Since the start of these negotiations, CUPE has said its workers make an average of $39,000 annually.

Earlier this week, Ford said his government had an "improved offer" for education workers, but he refused to go into the specifics.

Will CUPE strike again?

It's not out of the question. As negotiations between CUPE and the Ford government continue, the union has said it is ready to strike again if contract talks don't go the way they want.

The union would have to give five-days notice for any strike action.

Ford called their two-day strike "more dangerous" than the legislation his government introduced to make the strike illegal.

    Stuart McGinn
    Ontario Editor
    Stuart McGinn is Narcity’s Ontario Editor and focuses mainly on covering major provincial and local news stories across the province. Stuart is from Ottawa and is now based in Toronto.
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