Ontario: Thousands of Ontario education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) hit picket lines Friday to their indefinite walkout that has closed schools across the province, even the Ford government has passed a contentious bill imposing a contract and rendered any strike action illegal.

The effort to reach an agreement between the Education Support Workers and the Government of Ontario did not end even on the last day of the talks and no agreement could be reached between the two sides.

Following this, the government had passed a back-to-work bill in view of education workers’ determination to strike. With this, a four-year contract has been imposed on education workers and calling the strike as ‘illegal’.

With the passage of Bill 28 or the Keeping Students in Class Act, workers will not have the right to take any kind of job action. The bill was introduced on Monday and passed on Thursday afternoon. A representative for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the bill becomes law and comes into force the same day.

The Union Bargaining Committee said it found out in the afternoon that the talks had not materialised. The committee said that it was clear that the government did not intend to conclude the talks.

Minutes after the committee issued the statement, Education Minister Lecce told a news conference that the government had tried very hard to reach a compromise, but the Canadian Union of Public Employees did not allow anything to happen and maintained a firm mind to go on strike. In view of this, the government had to chew this blow to keep classes open for ontario’s two million students and to protect them from the loss of education.

Meanwhile, the union has also made it clear that despite the passage of this bill, their members will participate in the strike being held at the province level from today.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit out at the Ford government’s legislation and said extended his support to the CUPE strike.

He said, “I spoke with national union leaders this morning about the Ontario government’s inappropriate preemptive use of the notwithstanding clause, which undermines the fundamental rights and freedoms of workers. Our government stands firmly with our country’s workers.”

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