CUPE’s National President Mark Hancock has arrived in Toronto to lend his support to CUPE’s 55,000 education workers in Ontario who are poised to walk off the job on Friday in pursuit of a much-needed wage increase, after the Ford government tabled legislation that imposes a new contract and overrides the Charter-protected right to strike by invoking the Notwithstanding Clause.

“This is an appalling display of contempt for workers’ rights, for the collective bargaining process, and for the workers who look after our kids and keep our schools running,” said Hancock. “Going full nuclear and threatening the lowest-paid education workers in the province with fines and the Notwithstanding Clause is just disgraceful, even for this premier and this education minister.”

“We have a clear message here today. To the Ford government: negotiate, don’t legislate. We all know the best deals that ensure long-term stability and labour peace are the ones we reach at the bargaining table,” said Hancock. “And to our members: you are not alone. You have the full force of Canada’s largest union and our 715,000 members nationwide standing with you. We have your back.”

For a decade, under both the Liberals and the PCs, education workers have seen their Charter rights walked over, and their wages decline in real terms by 10.7% since 2012.

That has to end.

“There’s still time to get a deal done. Instead of bullying the lowest-paid education workers in the province, Doug Ford should be negotiating a fair offer so they no longer have to work second jobs and rely on food banks to make ends meet,” said CUPE’s National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick.

“If Doug Ford thinks his threats and intimidation are going to stop us from fighting for a better deal for our members, he should think again.”