The bargaining team negotiating on behalf of 55,000 education workers says the Ministry of Education and Ontario’s school board trustees have maintained the wrong priorities throughout negotiations and that their thinking has led them to abandon their responsibilities toward students.
Their move has set the stage for work-to-rule job action beginning Monday, September 30 by school board employees who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). There are CUPE education workers in 63 school boards across the province and they will use work-to-rule to highlight the ways that services for students have been damaged by the Ford government’s cuts to education.
“What the provincial government and the trustees’ associations has done is highly irresponsible,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which negotiates centrally on behalf of the union’s school board employees.
“The province and the CTA had it within their power to reach a fair deal that protects services for students. But instead they chose to disrupt students’ education by refusing to see the deal that was there to be made. Now they have left millions of students, parents and families out in the cold.”
The priority of CUPE’s negotiating team was always to reach a deal that secured services for students, said Walton, “but the other side pushed matters to the brink. Their decision means that students will be left without the supports they need in schools.
“However, parents, teachers and communities can be assured that no CUPE member will ever do anything to make a school unsafe or put any student at any risk. As always, CUPE members will exercise their professional judgment when it comes to the health and safety of students. Parents can always be assured that safety is a given with CUPE members,” concluded Walton.
CUPE remains committed to reconvening mediation toward reaching a freely negotiated settlement.