Education workers in Ontario say ahead of Monday’s strike by 55,000 workers: ‘We’ve been left in the dark in negotiations for almost 10 days’ – WSWS | Team Cansler

Are you an education worker in Ontario? Take up the fight for anti-inflationary wage increases and resist union efforts to isolate education workers. Join the Ontario Education Workers Basic Committee by sending an email ontedrfc@gmail.comor fill out the form at the end of this article.

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Over 55,000 janitors, educational assistants, educators and administrative workers are preparing to strike Monday for the second time this month for wage increases and improvements in working conditions. The Canadian Union of Public Workers (CUPE), which negotiates on its behalf, was forced to issue the required five-day strike notice on Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement with the far-right progressive Conservative government led by Premier Doug Ford.

Part of the CUPE demonstration in Toronto’s Queen’s Park on November 4th [Photo: WSWS]

Earlier this month, Ford attempted to impose massive wage cuts on low-wage workers via government decree. His Bill 28, which banned workers from going on strike under threat of exorbitant fines, sparked massive opposition when education workers opposed him in a powerful strike. With an anti-government general strike brewing among teachers and broader sections of the working class, CUPE and other leading unions came to Ford’s rescue by calling off the strike in exchange for Ford’s repeal of Bill 28.

The sabotage of the strike has significantly weakened workers, a fact underscored by the massive real wage cut CUPE reportedly agreed with the government. Laura Walton, chief negotiator for the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) bargaining unit, announced on Wednesday that an annual “increase” of 3.59 percent had been agreed, with the parties reportedly set to meet “halfway through”. This is a lie, as ordinary workers entered the negotiations demanding an 11.7 percent annual wage increase. Given that they have suffered a huge real wage cut over the last decade, this demand was already extremely modest and would struggle to keep up with inflation. Walton’s attempt to sell an offer worth less than a third of that initial demand as a “win” is a slap in the face for all education workers who make the average poverty wage of $39,000 a year.

While government and union negotiators agreed on another attack on real wages, Walton explained that an agreement could not be reached because Ford refused to invest additional sums in student unions, including allowing more staff to be hired and more preparation time. Their strike announcement, however, has much more to do with simmering anger among ordinary workers determined to wage a powerful struggle to overturn decades of wage and benefit concessions that CUPE and the other education unions have made complicit in enforcement. Furthermore, it does not rule out the possibility of CUPE staging an 11 hour sell-off with the government and attempting to urge workers to vote for it.

As the World Socialist Web Sitein his analysis of CUPE’s strike announcement, said: “Many workers will no doubt be thrilled to have another chance to picket against Ford and his pro-corporate cronies. However, a serious warning must be issued. All indications are that the CUPE leadership has no intention of allowing Monday’s strike. Instead, they are using the strike announcement both as leverage with the government in negotiations and to appease grassroots militancy, which remains angry and frustrated that the bureaucracy nullified their previous strike.”

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