Ontario education workers begin work-to-rule campaign as contract talks degrade

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TORONTO — Tens of thousands of education workers across Ontario have begun a work-to-rule campaign in a bid to pressure the provincial government into making concessions in contract negotiations.

The union representing 55,000 custodians, clerical workers and early childhood educators across the province made the announcement last night after mediation broke down over the weekend.

CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions says the workers will stop working overtime and performing extra duties.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement regarding the end to the latest round of talks and CUPE’s job action:

“It is deeply disappointing that CUPE has decided to end talks this weekend, and proceed with a partial withdrawal of services, despite a limited number of outstanding items at the table.

The Crown and the employers tabled a reasonable offer and expanded our offer through the negotiations with one interest in mind: landing a deal that keeps our kids in class. We have offered proposals to address compensation, job security and funding for additional staffing.  A key issue that remains is resolving rising absenteeism rates, and the impact that has on students and schools.

The Crown and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) have been and will continue to negotiate in good faith. We remain fully committed to resuming discussions with CUPE to reach an agreement quickly to provide predictability to parents and students. On my direction, through our mediator, we have asked for additional bargaining dates to bring everyone back to the table so that we can ensure our kids remain in class.

During this period of job action, student safety will remain the utmost priority – a position I know we all share.

We stand with parents working to protect our students’ futures, invest in their potential and ensure they remain in the classroom.”

Contracts for Ontario’s public school teachers and education workers expired Aug. 31, and the major unions are in various stages of bargaining.