Ford tells education workers who voted in favour of strike 'don't force my hand'

Ford tells education workers who voted in favour of strike 'don't force my hand'
Ford tells education workers who voted in favour of strike 'don't force my hand' 6 October 2022 01:58 PM: Ontario Premier Doug Ford sent a message Thursday to education workers who voted in favour of a strike: "Don't force my hand."

The Canadian Union of Public Employees announced earlier this week that its members, such as early childhood educators, custodians and administration staff, voted 96.5 per cent in favour of a strike.

Ford was asked at a news conference Thursday if he would legislate them back to work in the event of a stoppage. He said he won't "budge" on wanting to keep classrooms free of disruptions.

"To the unions, the teachers unions: please don't go on strike. Don't force my hand," Ford said. "I'm a strong believer in negotiating, but do not, do not go on strike."

CUPE represents education workers and school support staff, not teachers. The four major teachers' unions are at various stages of bargaining after contracts expired Aug. 31, but none has taken a strike vote.

CUPE was set to bargain Thursday and Friday with the government and the union has said the two days of talks would be key in determining next steps.

Laura Walton, president of CUPE's Ontario School Boards Council of Unions said in a statement Thursday that the union's proposals are reasonable, necessary and affordable, and Ford has the power to accept them today.

"If he does that, the lowest paid education workers who are paid on average only $39,000 a year won't have to strike to make ends meet and to defend services for students from Ford's cuts," she wrote.

The government has offered raises of two per cent a year for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25 per cent for all other workers, while CUPE is looking for annual increases of 11.7 per cent.

CUPE has said the government's offer amounts to an extra $800 a year for the average worker.

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