Ontario Labor Commission hearings continue to decide fate of union strike

Ontario’s Industrial Relations Commission is due another day to hear testimony from the thousands of education workers who left their jobs on November 4 regarding the government’s request to stop performing their duties.

The school board began hearing debates on November 3 after Education Minister Stephen Lecce submitted an application following the declaration of the Keeping Students in Class Act on the same day.

in a tweet The next day, Lecce said the state government would “use all available tools” to “end this illegal strike and get the children back to school.”

Provincial filings with the Ontario Labor Relations Commission allege that the Union of Civil Servants of Canada (CUPE) “called, authorized, or threatened an illegal strike.”

The province also announced that CUPE’s Ontario Board of Education union council president Laura Walton and CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn “advised, procured, supported, approved, and threatened illegal strikes.” , or facilitated.”

CUPE, representing 55,000 education workers, submitted a written response to the Labor Commission on November 4, claiming the labor action was a “legitimate political protest”.

Further, Walton and Hahn “deny that they authorized, advised, procured, supported, or encouraged any illegal strikes and that their members were involved in any illegal strikes,” a response submitted to the board said. said.

The union asked both Lecce and Assistant Secretary of Education Andrew Davis to testify, but board chairman Brian O’Byrne said Lecce was granted immunity through parliamentary privilege.

Davis is asked to provide evidence.

union demands

On November 4, educators, represented by CUPE, gathered at politicians’ offices, including the Lecce constituency office in Vaughan, Ontario. Crowds also pickedeted the state legislature in Queens Park.

Demonstrators, consisting of teaching assistants, custodians and librarians, were protesting the Ford government for passing Bill 28, which imposes four-year contracts.

The bill also applies the provision, albeit allowing the state legislature to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to address disputes involving school board employees.

CUPE calls for an annual wage increase of 11.7%, double overtime pay, and 30 minutes of paid preparation time per day for educational assistants and early childhood educators.

On October 30, the government gave five days’ notice to the Ontario government, saying education officials would go on strike if demands were not met.

The state offered a 2% annual salary increase for workers earning less than $40,000 a year and 1.25% for other workers.

After several hours At CUPE’s notice, Lecce announced a new contract that would give workers earning less than $43,000 a year on a four-year contract a 2.5% annual salary increase and other workers a 1.5% annual salary increase, but it was rejected by the union. rice field.

CUPE says the framing isn’t accurate because pay increases really depend on hourly rates and pay scales.

CUPE announced on November 3 that it had made a final offer for about half of the amount originally proposed. This translates into a wage increase of about 6%.

“Solidarity action”

The union also said the strike would last indefinitely. Many boards of education in the state have Toronto District School Board, Peel District School BoardWhen Toronto Catholic District School Boardannounced the closure of schools or the transition to online learning.

Other unions have expressed support for CUPE’s protest. For example, the Ontario Labor Union said,solidarity actionMembers were encouraged to show their support by hanging placards and banners at busy intersections across the state on November 5.

and statement The Ontario Building Construction Trade Council, issued Nov. 2, said it was “deeply concerned about the potential loss of collective bargaining rights affecting educated workers.”

“We strongly encourage both CUPE and the government to continue negotiations in good faith to pursue a fair contract that benefits all,” he added.

Andrew Chen and Canadian Press contributed to this report.

Isaac Theo


Isaac Teo is a Toronto-based reporter for the Epoch Times.