The union that represents education workers across the province claims that negotiations for a new contract with the Ontario government are still “far apart.”
“I wish I could stand here right now and declare that all bills are paid, contracts are ready, and we can leave. It would be the ideal storm. At a news conference on Monday in the late afternoon, Laura Walton, president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said, “We are far apart, but we are committed.
Her comments on the ongoing negotiations come as the Ford administration repeals a law that required education workers to sign a contract and forbade them from striking.
In just 20 minutes, the legislature unanimously voted on revoking Bill 28 and deemed it “for all purposes never to have been in force.”
The premier offered to withdraw the legislation a week ago if CUPE members agreed to return to work, which they did.
Walton said talks at the bargaining table have been “slow” because the union had doubts that the government would follow-through with their commitment to revoke the legislation.
“I don’t think there was a whole lot of trust on our side, that this day would actually happen. Now that we know that this day has actually happened, that team is ready to head back and we’re ready to focus,” she said.
The government’s last offer to education workers included an annual wage increase of 2.5 per cent for those making less than $43,000 and 1.5 per cent for the rest of the workforce.
Since then, Ford has said that a new, unrevealed “improved” offer is in the works, one that would “particularly” benefit lower-income workers.
Unconfirmed reports surfaced on Tuesday citing a new offer of 3.5 per cent and 2 per cent, but Walton said at the time that the union would not accept a two-tiered offer.
On Monday, she pushed forward that message. “They would like you to believe that by dividing workers and to haves and have nots, that that is going to achieve some sort of peace in the labour movement,” Walton said.
“What will actually work is a flat rate increase, because a flat rate increase is going to allow those with lower income to actually move up quicker than those with the higher income, and it actually deals with the disparity and the inequity in a way that isn’t intended to divide and conquer.”
Source_ The Canadian Press