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Ontario education minister is 'jumping the gun' with strike talk, union says

A union representing education workers has accused the minister of education of "whipping up the crowd" as both sides search for a fair deal.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)– which represents 55,000 education workers, including early childhood educators, educational assistants, and custodial staff – has taken the “provocative step” of discussing strike votes at an upcoming meeting on August 22.

CUPE counters it is Lecce “jumping the gun.”

Laura Walton, who sits on the union bargaining committee, says the minister is “whipping up the crowd around whether school was going to be there in September, I will be clear, we will be at work.”

The union is seeking a pay increase of 11.7 percent – or $3.25 per hourؙ – arguing wages have been stagnant for years under both Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments.

“For most workers, for myself for instance, it would mean the difference of making $36,000 vs $40,000 a year – there is not a single worker who is going to get rich."

Lecce says the government is open to a fair deal, but the union is asking for too much.

“The entire budget of Saskatchewan is less than this ask,” he said in an interview with CP24 on Friday.

Caught in the middle are parents and children.

“I would be very upset,” said parent Melinda Takacs. “Of course, I just want the kids to be in school and I want them to learn.”

Others are feeling the crunch as rising inflation eats into their standard of living.

“It’s a tough time for everyone, so who am I to say they don’t deserve it,” said Derek McPherson. Top Stories


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