Ford says ‘improved offer’ given to CUPE for lowest paid education workers

Premier Doug Ford says his government is back at the bargaining table on Tuesday with the union representing 55,000 education workers and has an “improved offer” for CUPE’s lowest paid workers.

“We’re back at the table with an improved offer, particularly for the lower income workers,” Ford said at a press conference Tuesday morning. “Just as we’re listening to CUPE, we also need CUPE to listen to us.”

Due to privacy of negotiations, Ford would not elaborate on the details of the improved offer to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

CUPE members returned to work Tuesday, following days of protest and work refusal, after agreeing to the government’s pledge to rescind a controversial bill that saw their rights to bargaining and strike stripped.

Read more: What you need to know as Ontario education workers set to return to work

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“Now both sides need to bring the same spirit and cooperation to negotiations,” Ford said.

Ford also said the government will be returning to Queen’s Park on Monday to introduce legislation to repeal Bill 28 “in its entirety” as promised as part of a deal with CUPE workers to end their walkout.

“With the cooperation of the opposition we expect to get it passed quickly,” Ford said.

Last week, the province tabled Bill 28 that declared going on strike illegal and imposed a contract on CUPE workers as talks broke down at the negotiating table. That bill was passed on Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Ford says government back to negotiations with CUPE with ‘improved offer’'

Ford says government back to negotiations with CUPE with ‘improved offer’

Still, CUPE members initiated job action on Friday, walking off the job, despite legislation that banned them from doing so.

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The government had originally offered raises of two per cent a year for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25 per cent for all others, and the four-year deal imposed by the soon-to-be-repealed law gave 2.5 per cent annual raises to workers making less than $43,000 and 1.5 per cent raises for all others.

CUPE had originally been seeking annual salary increases of 11.7 per cent and has said it tabled a counter offer that cut its wage proposal in half.

Read more: CUPE members will return to school after Ford promises to rescind controversial strike legislation

Ford noted that “as premier, I always need to consider the bigger picture” and said the agreement with CUPE “will have massive impacts on broader public service salaries, especially as we continue negotiating with teachers.”

“These impacts, they could cost tens of billions of dollars. That’s money we need for schools, health care, transit and infrastructure. It’s money we need for vital services.”

If a deal is still not reached, CUPE can issued another five-day notice to strike.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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