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Ontario education workers’ union says they’ll strike Monday if no deal

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Some 55,000 education workers in Ontario are set to walk off the job Monday after their union said contract talks have stalled with seemingly little hope of reaching a deal.

CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions announced the move during a news conference at Queen’s Park on Wednesday morning.

Council president Laura Walton said she still hopes employers and the province will return to the bargaining table to prevent a walkout, and the union is prepared to do “the hard work” to avoid such a move.

Support staff, including clerical staff, custodians, educational assistants, early childhood educators and more from 63 school boards in the province, began a work-to-rule campaign the start of this week after last-minute, weekend contract talks failed to produce a deal.

Since Monday, Walton said, it has become clear to the union that job action is not leading to renewed talks and is affecting services in schools.

“Across the province boards are cutting more services and putting students at greater risk,” Walton said Wednesday. “This is not safe and this is not sustainable. We have no choice but to invoke the next step in the legal progress we follow for school board bargaining.”

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Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, said education workers will walk off the job Monday if a deal can’t be reached. (CBC)

On Monday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce had said bargaining could resume later this week and was optimistic a deal could be secured. But Walton countered that at the time by saying the two sides were too far apart.

CUPE is just one of the unions locked in talks with Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government.

So far, none has been able to reach a deal, raising concern that a widespread school strike could happen this fall.

More to come

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