Among the demands in a letter published on Thursday are a real wage increase above the rate of inflation to address low wages and retention issues as well as an increase in hiring in schools.

We only make $39,000 a year on average while we personally subsidize Ontario’s education system by doing unpaid work outside of regular hours as staffing levels [en personnel] are so low that it is impossible for us to do everything during paid hoursdenounced Laura Walton, president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) of the CUPEin a press release.

The pandemic has only exacerbated problems already present – lack of staff, difficulty in retaining employees – largely because the wages are so low and the jobs so precariousdeplore the authors of the open letter.

The union pulls out its calculator to demonstrate how incomes have fallen below inflation in recent years: wage freezes under the previous Liberal government, then a 1% increase under the Progressive Conservative government. Given an inflation rate well over 7% in 2022, the wage reduction for education workers will be 17%anticipates the CUPE.

To support its claims, the union also cites a survey carried out in 2021 among education staff according to which 51% of workers had at least one other side job.

This figure rises to 64.5% for single earners. The union also points out that approximately 75% of its members are women.

We work so hard, so if it was recognized by the government, it would be great to have a decent salarytestifies Sharron Flynn-Bennett who works with children with developmental and behavioral disorders.

Specter of a back-to-school strike

In early June, the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), which represents 55,000 school support workers, including clerical staff, teaching assistants, nutrition service workers, had already sent a notice of intention to negotiate the renewal of his collective agreement, which expires at the end of August.

The union had raised the specter of a possible strike for the start of the school year in September, a threat repeated in this new collective action.

CUPE-CSCSO members say they are ready to negotiate all summer long in order to reach a fair collective agreement, which would avoid disruptions in classrooms this fallcan we read in the union press release.

For Ricardo Tranjan, senior researcher at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), education personnel remain in a strong position to negotiate their collective agreement.

Mr. Tranjan cites in particular the unemployment rate is really low this yearas well as transferable skills [de ce personnel]who could work in the private sectorso many levers to obtain better salaries, he believes.

When we talk about the quality of education, it’s a bit abstract. But when you look closer, it’s linked to the workers, to their working conditions. »

A quote from Ricardo Tranjan, senior researcher at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives

In addition, the difficulty of retaining teachers is of a serious problem in Ontario among French schoolsadds the researcher.

With information from Andréane Williams

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