Education workers in Ontario schools have voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action.
The school council branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which has held strike votes across the province over the past two weeks, released results Monday showing 93 per cent approve such a move if negotiations falter with the provincial government and school board associations.
The earliest the workers could start job action is Sept. 30 — three weeks before the federal election — and the union must give families at least five days’ notice of any work-to-rule, rotating strikes or full-scale walkouts.
CUPE represents 55,000 office staff, custodians, early childhood educators and education assistants, among others, who have been hit by hundreds of job losses in boards across the province this year.
“Back-to-school in Ontario this year looks very different from last year. Families, students and workers have all been hurt by the Ford government’s cuts to education,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, in a statement.
“Our plan for job action is about standing up for students and protecting the services that CUPE education workers deliver across the province.”
Bargaining continues Tuesday and Wednesday, though Walton has said talks have gotten nowhere so far.
Key issues include job security and benefits.
“We’ll continue to do everything we can to avoid a labour disruption,” Walton added.
Federal Conservatives are concerned that any labour strife blamed on Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives could hurt Andrew Scheer’s candidates in Ontario in the run-up to the Oct. 21 election.
The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario recently announced it would hold strike votes this month and next, as it remains at the bargaining table.
President Sam Hammond said in a recent interview that the union has “no intent to utilize or implement that strike vote in terms of a work-to-rule or a strike — this is simply to get a strong mandate from our members” and to affirm the union’s priority issues at the bargaining table.
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