Education Workers Issue Strike Notice Again & Said Talks With Ford Government 'Broke Down'

CUPE said a province-wide strike could happen Monday.

Ontario Editor
Education workers protesting outside of Queen's Park.

Education workers protesting outside of Queen's Park.

Ontario's 55,000 education workers have threatened to go on strike for what would be a second time amid CUPE's ongoing contract negotiations with the Ontario government.

The union's five-day strike notice issued Wednesday morning came as Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has made multiple "improved offers" at the bargaining table.

"We are disappointed that only a few short days after talks restarted, CUPE has filed notice to once again shut down classrooms," Lecce said in a statement to Narcity. "Since resuming talks, we’ve put forward multiple improved offers that would have added hundreds of millions of dollars across the sector, especially for lower income workers. CUPE has rejected all of these offers. We are at the table ready to land a fair deal that invests more in lower income workers and keeps kids in class.”

In a news conference Wednesday, the President of CUPE's Ontario School Board Council of Unions confirmed the government had offered education workers a $1 an hour raise, amounting to a 3.59% increase.

"A wage increase doesn't help if you're going to lose your job," said Laura Walton, explaining that while the wage increase represented a "middle ground" in negotiations, workers are looking for a "full package" contract that also focuses on various investments in education services.

"I'm not sure why every single time we're in negotiations, we have to get to this point before the government understands," said Walton, adding that after two full days of negations, "we tried everything we possibly could."

Walton said CUPE would remain at the bargaining table all the way up to Monday's possible strike action. The Ontario government has made the same commitment.

"We are ready, we are here. We're dedicated to get this deal done," Walton said.

CUPE's province-wide strike last week forced many Ontario schools to close.

The union had said another round of strike action was on the table if a deal couldn't be reached.

The Ford government has since repealed a controversial bill that would have made their strike illegal. It's unclear if the government would consider that option again.

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.