Hundreds of CUPE 3903 members and their supporters assembled in front of the Provincial Ministry of Labour’s offices on University Avenue this afternoon for a raucous rally, marching north to Queen’s Park.On the eve of the Provincial Legislature’s dissolution ahead of a June election, the head of CUPE Ontario called a failed last-minute effort by the governing Liberals and the Opposition PC Party to force striking academic workers at York University back to work a demonstration of their “true colours.”

“At the eleventh-and-a-half hour, this Liberal Government showed their true, shameful colours,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario.

“Instead of doing what they should have done months ago – tell York University to live up to its responsibilities and get back to the bargaining table – the Wynne Liberals instead tried to strip these workers of their Charter-protected right to free, collective bargaining. And as always, Doug Ford’s Tories were right by their side, ready to assist,” he added.

Hahn made the comments following efforts today by the Provincial government to table legislation that, if approved, would have forced striking members of Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3903) back to work. Those efforts failed after the Ontario New Democratic Party refused to give unanimous consent to bring the legislation forward.

“Thank goodness there are still politicians at Queen’s Park who will defend worker’s rights!  The NDP appreciates the importance of free collective bargaining, protected by the Charter, and made the principled decision not to let this legislation move forward,” said Hahn.

Units 1, 2 and 3 of CUPE 3903 walked off the job on March 5 in an effort to secure a fair collective agreement that reduces endemic precarious employment in the post-secondary education sector, while pushing back concessionary demands from the University.

“This strike was entirely preventable, had York University made a good-faith effort to resolve the issues through bargaining. Even after a supervised vote by the Ministry of Labour rejected the same offer, they have refused to remove concessions that will make these already precarious jobs even more so.  They have repeatedly refused to bargain, and the Liberals and Conservative parties’ efforts to enable York’s bad behaviour are yet another example of why we need real change for the better at Queen’s Park,” said Hahn.

“Government should not be letting employers - especially employers that receive substantial sums of public money—off the hook for their bad behaviour,” he added.