Nearly 200 protesters gathered Saturday in front of the Ontario PC meeting in Toronto to show support for education workers.
The rally comes just days after contract talks between the Ford government and CUPE, a union representing about 55,000 education workers, collapsed.
“We know they’re talking about their next policy decision,” said Laura Walton, chairman of the Ontario Schools Union Council.
“But in the end Strikes can be avoided. It means coming to the table with real terms that respect workers and family.”
CUPE, which represents workers such as educational assistants, carers and librarians. It said a mediator who helped negotiate this week concluded the two sides were too far apart. and should postpone the negotiations
Both sides are set to return to the Nov. 1 schedule for an indefinite period.
When talks stalled, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said CUPE “attempts to disrupt classroom learning by refusing to compromise” on what he calls unreasonable demands.
CUPE is looking at an annual salary increase of 11.7%, and the government has proposed a 2% annual salary increase for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25% for all others.
Education workers also offer other offers, such as double the normal overtime work. Paid preparation time: 30 minutes per day for educational assistants and ECE, enhanced welfare and professional development for all employees.
Why are workers protesting?
Michelle Campbell, a development services worker working for the York Region public school system, said she has protested against Education Secretary Stephen Lecce and Premier Doug Ford’s treatment of education officials over the years.
at one point She said she took three jobs to earn money, working 30 to 40 days without rest. She was eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Campbell said.
“I can’t keep doing the job I love for the amount I’m earning right now,” Campbell said. She sold her house and moved to a one-bedroom apartment on a mission.
“Seventeen years ago it worked. But with inflation and rising salaries almost nonexistent. It is impossible.”
Chris Kaspiris, a development advocate for the York Region School Board, said his school was understaffed. It is therefore common for workers to not take breaks or eat lunch. by running from one child to another Because without them, he said, children with complex needs wouldn’t be involved in the classroom.
“We are here to ensure that government funds properly support our school system,” Kaspiris said.
“Without us, school wouldn’t work.”
CUPE education officials were on a legal strike as of Nov. 3 and Walton had previously said what happened that day depended on the negotiations leading up to that.
in the previous negotiation round Working on the rules hasn’t given enough pressure. In 2019, CUPE and the government reached a last-minute deal before workers were set to go into full-scale strike.