Ontario withdraws labour board case seeking to declare CUPE’s walkout illegal

TORONTO – Ontario’s labour relations board says the provincial government has withdrawn its application to have a walkout by 55,000 education workers declared illegal.

The workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees walked off the job last Friday after the government passed legislation that imposed a contract and banned a strike.

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford promised to rescind the legislation if the workers ended their job action, and CUPE said employees would be back at work the next day.

The walkout had shut hundreds of schools to in-person learning.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board says government lawyers told the board on Wednesday that they were withdrawing the province’s application, and CUPE’s legal counsel consented to the withdrawal.

CUPE and the government returned to the bargaining table on Tuesday and negotiations are continuing.

The labour board had heard the case during a marathon weekend session.

Government lawyers had asked the board to declare the CUPE walkout “illegal” and actions by union leaders “unlawful,” while CUPE lawyers had argued that the job action was a “legitimate political protest.”

The government’s law, which used the notwithstanding clause to guard against constitutional challenges, had set fines for violating the legislation at a maximum of $4,000 per employee per day and up to $500,000 per day for the union.

A spokeswoman for Ford has said new legislation to repeal the education-worker bill will be introduced on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022.

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