Labour issues may close schools again Monday

BROCKVILLE/KEMPTVILLE – Another round of school closures for the region’s two English-language school boards may happen Monday due to a labour dispute.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees issued a five-day strike notice Wednesday to the Ministry of Education. The union’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions bargaining unit has been negotiating a new labour agreement for nearly two weeks. OSBCU represents about 55,000 non-teaching education workers including janitors, educational assistants, and office administrators. Both the Upper Canada District School Board and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, along with the Ottawa Catholic School Board will be affected if employees walk off the job November 21.

Workers walked off the job in protest on November 4 following the passage of Bill 28, which removed workers right to strike using the Notwithstanding Clause and imposed a four-year contract on OSBCU members. They returned to the job November 8 after the provincial goverment agreed to repeal Bill 28 and contract talks resumed.

Since then, OSBCU President Laura Walton said that a wage increase of 3.59 per cent per year has been agreed to but the talks were stalled on non-wage related issues.

The province and union are continuing talks over the weekend with a deadline of 5 p.m. Sunday (November 20) to reach a deal.

The CDSBEO and UCDSB have said it cannot safely operate its schools without CUPE represented employees. Schools in those boards will move to remote-based learning on Monday should no contract agreement be reached.

The CUPE/OSBCU are the first of Ontario’s “Big-Five” education unions to negotiate with the Ministry. The contracts for about 200,000 teachers represented by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens expired at the end of August this year.


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