Leadership with the Canadian Union of Public Employees says they have accepted Ontario’s offer to repeal Bill 28 – ending strike action for over 50,000 education workers across the province.
Schools in Ontario are expected to resume normal operations by November 8.
This all comes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford pledged to repeal the bill, the Keeping Students in Class Act – which made strike-action illegal for members after failed negotiations – if CUPE came back to the negotiating table.
“Our desire has always been, and remains, to negotiate in good faith and to land agreements with education partners,” said Ford, in a news conference earlier today.
“As a gesture of good faith, our government is willing to rescind the legislation – but, only if CUPE agrees to show a similar gesture of good faith by stopping their strike and letting kids back into their classrooms. We’re willing to make a fair deal,” Ford adds.
In CUPE’s news conference after Ford’s, CUPE leadership confirmed to media members that Bill 28 will be repealed in its entirety and Ontario’s promise has been put into writing by the Premier.
“Let’s not forget why this all started. This started because the Ford government didn’t want to pay workers – the lowest paid education workers in the province – a living wage,” said CUPE leadership.
“This started because education workers have been overlooked, underappreciated and legislated into poverty. We realized our power and we decided to stand up and fight back,” adds CUPE.
The Ontario government and the Canadian Union of Public Employees have been negotiating a new contract for over 50,000 education workers since the summer. A 5-day strike notice was issued to school boards and the province on October 30.
Talks between the two parties began after the province unveiled their 4-year plan for education workers earlier this year, which called for 2 per cent wage increases for staff earning under $40,000 and increases of 1.25 per cent for everyone else.
CUPE has been calling for wage increases of nearly 12 per cent for all workers – with increases in overtime pay, additional education assistants and custodians, as well as increased staffing levels in libraries, offices and lunchrooms.