The countless hours of services and supports lost to Ontario students because of Ford government cuts are the focus of job action announced today by education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Representatives this morning issued the required five days’ notice that puts them in a legal strike position on Monday, September 30. That is the date CUPE education workers will begin their work-to-rule campaign at 63 school boards across Ontario.

“We’ve always said that any job action we take will have at its heart the protection of education services for students,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), which bargains centrally on behalf of the union’s 55,000 education workers.

“And this year we’ve seen those services decimated: school libraries closed over students’ lunch breaks because there aren’t enough library workers; school cleaning cut to the point that custodians are told they can only vacuum kindergarten classrooms once a week; eight or nine students with special needs now supported by a single education assistant; communications with parents affected because some schools have lost their school secretaries.

“If it takes job action to restore these services, then so be it. This is something worth fighting for.”

Yet even as their members prepare for job action, CUPE and OSBCU have welcomed the province’s and the Council of Trustees’ Associations’ proposal for new bargaining dates. The parties are now scheduled to meet on Saturday and Sunday in an attempt to reach a deal that will ward off job action.

Still, Walton and her fellow CUPE members are resolved to carry through their plans for work to rule if no deal is reached.

“Minister Lecce says he wants stability and predictability, but we have yet to hear anything that says that he’s ready to secure the education services that students and families rely on,” said Walton. “That is what CUPE education workers are seeking from this process – not simply for themselves, but for the students they serve.”