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Bill 115 compared to dictatorship

The Sarnia Observer

Thu Nov 1 2012

Column: Letters to the Editor

Sir: On Sept. 11, the Ontario government passed Bill 115 -the Putting Students First Act -stripping away the right to free collective bargaining of all education workers across Ontario.

While much of the media focus has been on the impact of Bill 115 on teachers, it’s important for the public to know that this is not just about teachers. It affects more than 55,000 CUPE members (Canadian Union of Public Employees) working as custodians, maintenance, secretaries/clerical, educational assistants, early childhood educators, library technicians, IT, and all other school board support staff across Ontario.

Education support staff members are the backbone of our schools. If you have a child in school, you know how absolutely imperative these employees are to the success of the education system. They ensure our children learn in a safe and clean environment and provide the additional supports students need to succeed every day.

Fact — Bill 115 — One size does not fit all!

* Two years with no wage increase and three unpaid days of work has a greater impact on those who make less — the average CUPE school board support worker makes $38,000 annually. (lowest paid workers in the education system)

* Under OMERS pension regulations, contributions are not automatically made by the employer if the employee is making less than 100 per cent of their wages. This is not the case for teachers.

* Reduced wages while off sick may also have the effect of reducing unemployment insurance benefits when an employee is laid off or in receipt of Special Benefits such as sick benefits or pregnancy parental benefits.

Bill 115 gives unprecedented power to the Minister of Education and Cabinet to interfere in all collective agreements in the education sector. It also sets out conditions which must be included in our collective agreements.

Bill 115 imposes:

* A wage freeze.

* It ends banked sick time.

* Cuts available sick days to 10 per year.

* Imposes unpaid days of work. Bill 115 gives the Minister of Education the power to review, approve or re-write any collective agreement. It is an unprecedented attack on workers’ rights and it overrides our democratic rights. It is an insult to the bargaining process. Bill 115 is not an agreement, it is dictatorship.

Suzanne Mills President, CUPE 4168 Sarnia

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