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Canada: 55,000 striking education workers cause schools to shut

Some 55,000 education workers went on strike on Friday in Canada’s most populous province of Ontario after failing to reach an agreement with the provincial government for better pay and more frontline staff in schools.

The workers, including educational assistants, secretaries and library workers, served a notice of strike on Sunday saying they had been unsuccessful in negotiating a new contract with the Doug Ford-led Ontario government.

Watch the moment CUPE leaders representing school support workers announce a province-wide protest on Friday after Ontario introduced back-to-work legislation. #onpoli pic.twitter.com/R3cy61JCV0

— CTV Toronto (@CTVToronto) October 31, 2022
In anticipation of the strike, school boards in Toronto and Ottawa had notified parents that schools would be shut for in-person learning on Friday, and that students would have to work independently at home.

Covering protest at Queen’s Park as hundreds of union members gather to take a stand against the Ontario government’s lack of support for its education workers. @HumberOnline @Emma3posca #onpoli #onted pic.twitter.com/XQuE1Infi4

— Andre La Rosa (@AndreLaRosaR) November 4, 2022
The Progressive Conservative government said the workers’ demands are too high and has passed a controversial law to force a contract on the workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) thereby preventing them from going on strike.

The law also includes a daily CAD 4,000 (USD 2,956) fine for striking workers, which the union has said they will fight against or pay if needed.

Still, on Friday morning, workers had started picket lines at dozens of locations across the province, including outside the office of Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Mr Lecce, calling out the strike as illegal in a statement on Friday, informed the government had filed a submission to the Ontario Labour Relations Board against CUPE workers.


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