School boards in London are set to close on Friday and switch to online learning
As the Ontario government plans to pass anti-strike legislation, CUPE members are preparing to walk off the job Friday.
More than 55,000 Ontario education workers, including custodial staff, administrative staff and education support workers, plan to strike, although the Ontario government called it an “illegal strike”.
This comes as the Ontario government plans to pass legislation banning workers from striking.
“Sometimes it’s enough to take a stand for ourselves and our children because they are our future,” said Mary Henry, president of CUPE Local 4222.
On Thursday, London’s two main school boards informed parents they would be closed on Friday and move to online learning.
CUPE currently represents about 2,500 full-time Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) employees and 1,000 casual positions, according to the board.
In a statement, the TVDSB said: “We will do our best to ensure continuity of learning for all students. Access to virtual learning will be available to students through their Google Classroom or Brightspace platforms,” the statement read.
“Your child(ren)’s teacher will communicate how students can access this information; If you need more details, please contact your child’s teacher directly.
The London District Catholic School Board also plans to close on Friday.
“Schools will coordinate with families who may need to borrow a device for remote learning. We ask families to be patient as many of our IT support staff are CUPE members. Students will not be penalized academically if they cannot participate in remote learning,” a council representative said in a statement.
“Next week, if schools are to remain closed, online learning for students will be scheduled according to the daily requirements of the Ministry of Education using both synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning,”
This means that the learning will take place in real time with an online teacher or that students will work at their own pace, through assignments and watching pre-recorded videos.
Local CUPE members said they planned to strike outside various MPP offices on Friday.
“It really hurts us because we all want to be in the schools, none of us want to get out of it, we don’t want to make it a fact for kids,” Henry said.
The Ontario government pledged Friday to fight what it calls an “illegal strike” by education support workers as mediation between the two sides collapsed.
At a news conference, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government had made a “good faith effort” but the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) stood still. and withdrew its strike threat.
“For the sake of Ontario’s two million students, to keep classrooms open, CUPE has left us no choice but to pass the Keeping (Students) in Class Act,” did he declare.
“The children should be in class tomorrow. And we have now passed a law that requires these workers to return to work and I hope and expect them to show up tomorrow for our children.
Bill 28 uses the notwithstanding clause to legislate a four-year contract for workers while preventing them from undertaking labor actions. The bill was tabled on Monday and is expected to pass later today.
The union said that despite the legislation, its members will take part in a province-wide strike “until further notice”, starting Friday.
Bill 28 imposes a four-year contract on more than 55,000 education support workers, including janitors, early childhood educators, teacher’s aides and administrative staff. Part of this contract includes a 2.5% annual salary increase for those earning less than $43,000 a year and a 1.5% increase for all other employees.
CUPE is asking for an 11.7% increase, which equates to about $3.25 more per hour overall.
“As everyone knows, we are the lowest paid sector of public services. Our average salary is only $39,000 a year, that’s not enough,” Henry said.
With files from Katherine DeClerq of CTV News