School boards across the Greater Toronto Area are preparing for an indefinite strike by thousands of education workers who are planning to defy the province’s anti-strike legislation.
Toronto, Peel, Durham and York school boards said they would close all schools as they can’t operate without these workers which include administrative staff, early childhood educators, educational assistants and custodians.
Around 55,000 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) education workers are determined to walk off the job Friday in spite of the Ford government’s new legislation banning the strike.
The legislation imposes a four-year collective agreement with CUPE education workers that would include a salary increase of 2.5 per cent (up from an initial offer of 2 per cent) for employees making below $43,000 annually and an increase of 1.5 per cent (up from an initial offer of 1.25 per cent) for employees making more than that for each year of the contract.
CUPE negotiators presented a counter-offer of a six per cent increase late Tuesday night, according to some media reports. But the government refused to negotiate until the strike was called off.
Meanwhile the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) said its 8,000 education workers will walk off the job today in solidarity with CUPE.
OPSEU represents education workers at several boards in the province. Their largest contingent of members are reportedly in the Peel District School Board and York Region District School Board.