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OTTAWA The head of Canadas largest union has condemned back-to-work legislation imposed by the Ontario government on striking education workers in Toronto.

This legislation is doubly offensive, said Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. It takes away the right to strike for workers who have no other means to get a fair settlement. And it imposes a biased process that will poison relations in our schools for years to come.

More than 13,000 support staff with the Toronto District School Board have been on strike since March 31 to win a fair wage increase and protect job security. As recently as yesterday, Premier Mike Harris had said that he would respect the bargaining process and allow the parties to reach an agreement.

This morning CUPE 4400, representing the striking workers, had made public a new offer, said Darcy and there was hope that trustees would agree at this evenings board meeting to get back to the bargaining table. Now the province is trying to scuttle any progress.

Harris has imposed an agreement because hes trying to deflect the mounting pressure from parents who know that provincial funding cuts are behind the series of strikes that have rocked Torontos schools, said Darcy.

But this tactic will backfire because an imposed settlement makes it all the more clear that school boards have very little power and its the province thats responsible for the chaos in the school system, she said.


For further information, contact:Beryl Ct003c/a>, Executive Assistant to Judy Darcy at (613) 294-7246 (cell.)