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Work-to-rule forces outside permit cancellations, walkout scheduled Oct. 7

Posted October 2, 2019

Simcoe County's public and separate school boards have cancelled all external permits in their facilites until further notice because of province-wide work-to-rule labour action by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representing custodial and maintenance workers.

The partial withdrawal of service by CUPE started Mon., Sept. 30. This morning CUPE announced the union has provided five days notice and will escalate job action "to a full-fledged walkout."

"I'll be frank: we had hoped work-to-rule would force the parties to get together and agree to a deal. But that hasn't happened, and now we're hearing stories that cause us great concern," said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which negotiates centrally on behalf of the union's school board employees, in a statement posted on CUPE's website. "Without any justification whatsoever, some school boards are closing programs and sending workers home. Some boards are paying parents to do the work of CUPE members. Some are asking older students to collect younger students from the school bus. Across the province, boards are cutting services and putting students at risk."

A Sept. 29 statement from Ontario's Catholic School Trustees' Association, noted mediation failed to reach a tentative agreement because "CUPE has refused to agree to any changes" that impact current levels of absenteeism.

"The current sick/short term disability leave plan allows access to 131 days of leave - 11 of these are payable at 100 per cent of salary and 120 are payable at 90 per cent of salary. In many boards, resources are being diverted from students and programs to pay for sick/short term disability leave costs," according to the statement. "Absenteeism rates are increasing and on average, CUPE members take in excess of 15 days of sick/short term disability leave each year. We are seeking changes to this plan that we hope will reduce absenteeism levels."

All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri