In a vote held last month, the 55,000 Ontario education workers voted 96.5% in favour of a strike mandate, and served strike notice last week. In response, the Ford government passed legislation to prevent a strike, making job action illegal and imposing a contract on workers.
“This action by the Conservative government of Ontario is an abuse of power, a violation of working people’s rights, and an affront to our democracy,” said CUPE BC President Karen Ranalletta. “There is no better example of why Conservative governments are bad for working people, and our country as a whole, than this action by the Ford government.”
Courts have repeatedly held that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides citizens with the right to free and fair collective bargaining, and that governments cannot use their legislative power to remove those rights. The Ford government’s legislation invokes the Notwithstanding Clause of the Charter, a seldom-used provision designed for situations of competing rights or national emergencies, to pre-emptively deny workers their fundamental rights.
“This isn’t just union busting,” said Ranalletta. “It is a draconian measure by a bully government, misusing a legal tool to supress the rights of its own citizens. It should be a wake-up call to all Canadians: our rights can be eliminated with the stroke of a pen, and that is exactly what Canadian Conservative parties intend to do when elected.”
CUPE BC has offered support and solidarity to the 55,000 education workers in Ontario who plan to proceed with a day of protest on Friday, despite the Ontario government’s threats of fines to the union and individual members. CUPE BC President Ranalletta and National Diversity Vice-President Debra Merrier will travel to Ontario, joining other members of CUPE’s National Executive supporting the protest.
“CUPE BC will be there, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ontario education workers. We will not let the Ontario Conservative’s trampling of citizens’ rights go unchallenged.”