Five days’ notice of a potential provincewide strike has been reportedly given by the union representing about 55,000 Ontario education workers.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representing staff including educational assistants, custodians, and early childhood educators, says a strike could start as soon as Friday.
Education workers will fully withdraw their services, a union spokesperson reported saying in the absence of a deal with the provincial government.
Two Ontario school boards have threatened to close schools if education workers go on a full strike.
In contrast to CUPE’s expectations of 11.7 percent annual salary increases, the government has offered raises of two percent a year for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25 percent for all others.
Of several other proposals been made by the Education workers including overtime at two times the regular pay rate, 30 minutes of paid prep time per day for educational assistants and ECEs, and an increase in benefits and professional development for all workers, the government’s offer seeks to keep all other areas the same as the previous deal except for the proposal on wages and a cut to sick leave pay.
In a statement, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government is “not giving up on a deal that protects in-person learning for kids.”
“We are at the table with a fair offer… keeps kids in class,” Lecce said in his statement. “If CUPE moves ahead with strike action and disruption, we will act to keep students in class so they can continue to catch up.”