Ontario CUPE strike live: CUPE to end protest after Premier Ford walks back on 'grossly overreaching' controversial bill

The Canadian Union Public Employees (CUPE) announced Monday that picket lines will be collapsed on Tuesday, meaning eduction workers will be back at school on Tuesday.

"This is just the beginning," CUPE Ontario School Board Council of Unions President Laura Walton said on Monday. "Our commitment to the people of Ontario, to the parents, to the kids, is we are going back to the table with open minds, open hearts and we're ready to negotiate, and we call on the government to do the exact same."

CUPE members assert the premier "grossly overreached" in an effort to legislate education workers back into schools, and prevent striking - a dangerous precedent that sent shockwaves across the country, and drew criticism from PM Trudeau.

This came after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he will rescind legislation that took away the rights of CUPE education workers if they stop their strike.

"I urge CUPE to continue to talk with us at the bargaining table, we're willing to make a fair deal, one that offers more help for lower income workers. We want a deal that's fair for students, fair for workers, fair for parents and fair for tax payers.Ontario Premier Doug Ford

"A deal with CUPE has massive impacts on broader public service salaries, as well as the government's ability to invest in services like health care, transit, education and hospital infrastructure, alongside other vital public services... I desperately hope that CUPE shows the same willingness to compromise as we are today. I hope they hear the plea to keep students in class, but that's not something I can guarantee you."

CUPE education workers walked off the job on Friday, which resulted in closed schools across the province in protest against Bill 28, which included the notwithstanding clause to circumvent constitutional challenge to the legislation.

"What this government did was bring us in and say, if you don’t take this then we’re going to legislate you, and not only are we going to legislate you, we’re going to rip away all of your rights," Walton said.

The union has demanded an increase of $3.25 per hour each year in a three-year collective agreement. The average salary for these education workers is $39,000 a year.

Walton addressed public claims that education minister Stephen Lecce has made publicly that education workers are asking to increase in wages and compensation by nearly 50 per cent.

"Minister Lecce has a really interesting way of spinning things in order to make it seem more palatable, but what we were asking for and what we continue to be asking for is a flat increase, we have never asked for a percentage because percentage increases further the disparity between low-wage earner and high-wage earner," Walton said.

"I think there was a lot of creative math, which maybe is a little bit scary when you consider this is the government that wants to change the math curriculum."

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