Toronto—When it comes to education, Premier Ernie Eves is not only continuing the harmful policies of his predecessor, his government is worsening the situation and fuelling the fire of labour unrest if they follow through on the cuts and school closures recommended in recent auditors’ reports, says Sid Ryan, the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
The provincially-appointed axe men have identified thousands of support staff positions for cuts. They include educational assistants, lunchroom supervisors, and secretaries and custodial staff, who are all key to the well-being of our school communities.
“Essentially the auditors are saying ‘balance the books off the backs of workers’. And that just isn’t going to happen. Our members will not stand for it, they will not take concessions and there will be labour unrest because at least 30 CUPE locals head into bargaining this Fall,” says Ryan.
“And,” he adds “it pits people with conflicting interests against each other. An auditor is a bean counter, only interested in saving money without consideration for the fallout. School trustees see their purpose as providing quality education and ensuring the well-being of children. It’s a collision course the province has forced on our education system.
“Don’t put workers in the situation where we have to fight at every turn to protect jobs and programs. Because we will fight,” cautions Ryan, who points out that the current strike by 170 custodial and maintenance staff at the Durham Catholic District School Board is a direct result of an inadequate funding formula that forces boards to cut jobs and fudge accounting to balance the budget.
“A word of warning to the Premier, this is the double cohort year. To have unrest in our schools will be disastrous for graduating students. So, this fall, when schools are thrown into turmoil because of the labour disputes, school closures and program cuts your government has fuelled, parents will point the finger squarely at the government and they will be joining with support workers and teachers in protesting provincial policy. The short of it is, that the Tory government is in deep trouble over education,” says Ryan.
For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications