ONTARIO – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the The Crown and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) have broken off negotiations and educational support employees have begun work-to-rule action as of Monday, Sept. 30.
“What the provincial government and the trustees’ associations has done is highly irresponsible,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which negotiates centrally on behalf of the union’s school board employees. “The province and the CTA had it within their power to reach a fair deal that protects services for students. But instead they chose to disrupt students’ education by refusing to see the deal that was there to be made. Now they have left millions of students, parents and families out in the cold.”
Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education said in a statement on Sunday that he was disappointed in the latest development.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Employees represented by CUPE include educational assistants, janitors, and clerical staff. Due to the work-to-rule action, janitorial staff will not be cleaning up garbage outside, educational assistants will not be helping children get on buses and clerical staff will not be updating websites.
After school activities are also affected.
“UCDSB has closed its school facilities to after-hours programs including Boys & Girls Club’s After School Program due to the possible work-to-rule action that may take place as early as Monday, September 30th by CUPE,” reads a statement on the Boys & Girls Club of Cornwall Facebook page. “In an effort to best serve our community, children registered in our UCDSB program locations will be welcomed to attend an alternative Boys & Girls Club location. Central Public School – UCDSB and Bridgewood Public School – UCDSB members will be accommodated at the 506 Clubhouse. Viscount Alexander Public School – UCDSB members will be accommodated at our program at the Benson Centre.”
CUPE represents approximately 55,000 educational support employees across 63 school boards.