‘Frenzied and sleep-deprived’ hearing on Ontario education strike continues

CUPE has indicated the strike could go on indefinitely


A lawyer representing the Ontario government says it shouldn’t matter that the contract that now binds 55,000 striking education workers in the province was imposed on them and not negotiated.

Ferina Murji says strikes are prohibited in the midst of any contract, not just one that was reached through collective bargaining.

She made the comment on the third day of arguments at what the chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board described as a “frenzied and sleep-deprived” hearing to determine the legality of the walkout.

Brian O’Byrne heard arguments for 16 hours on Saturday, with the hearing stretching into the early hours of Sunday morning and resuming hours later.

Thousands of workers, including education assistants, custodians and librarians, walked off the job on Friday in protest of government legislation that imposed a contract on them and took away their right to strike.

Union lawyer Steven Barrett argued Saturday that “to call this a mid-contract withdrawal of services, as if this was a collective agreement freely negotiated, is a fundamental absurdity.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2022.

Banner image via The Canadian Press