The following statement was discussed and approved unanimously at last Sunday’s founding meeting of the Ontario Education Workers Rank-and-File Committee.

Education workers are on a collision course with the province’s hard-right, Doug Ford-led government.

Sunday’s meeting took place just days after Education Minister Stephen Lecce threatened to criminalize strike action by any of the 250,000 Ontario teachers and school support staff whose contracts are about to expire. As across Canada, Ontario is preparing to reopen schools next month with no protections in place to stop another devastating wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, it was revealed that the government is offering education support workers with annual incomes of less than $40,000 four years of 2 percent annual pay increases, under conditions where inflation is approaching double digits. Those earning more than $40,000 are being offered just 1.25 percent per year.

To get involved with the Committee’s work, email ontedrfc@gmail.com.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

We Ontario teachers, educational assistants, administrative support staff, caretakers and bus drivers have formed the Ontario Education Workers Rank-and-File Committee. We aim to unite all education workers in the province on a program of political class struggle against years of savage cuts to education funding enforced by Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments alike, real-terms wage cuts and the abandonment of any effort to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Education workers cannot and will not accept the rapid erosion of their real wages through below-inflation pay “increases,” or having our health and safety imperiled by the government’s “profits before lives,”  “let it rip ” COVID-19 policy and its refusal to adequately address the growing threat of monkeypox in our workplaces and communities.

Our committee is made up of rank-and-file education workers. We are organizationally and politically independent of and hostile to all unions and establishment political parties, who have helped bring the public education system to the brink of collapse. We are taking matters into our own hands because we understand that only the mass mobilization of the working class can enforce the changes we must have in our workplace to defend public education, secure decent wages and benefits and protect our health and very lives.

Some 200,000 Ontario teachers joined a powerful one-day province-wide strike against the Ford government’s budget cuts and concessionary contract demands, Feb. 21, 2020. However, just weeks later the unions used the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as the pretext to suspend all further job action and impose sell-out contracts. (WSWS)

Education workers in Ontario have been divided from each other by our unions and have been ruled over by a succession of right-wing governments that seek to defund, destroy and privatize public education. This is why it is critical that we have organized ourselves independently from the corporatist trade union apparatuses and political parties that do not serve our interests. We unite as education workers in solidarity across all education sectors, and membership in our committee is open to all workers in the education sector, from child care to university.

Contract negotiations are currently underway for over 250,000 Ontario teachers and education support staff. But what is going on behind the scenes has nothing to do with a real “negotiation.” On the contrary, Doug Ford’s hated government, which won the support of less than 18 percent of the electorate at the last provincial election, is conspiring with the education unions to conclude yet another round of sellout contracts that will result in real-terms wage and benefit rollbacks for years to come. This has been made clear by the Ford government, which has demanded “stability” in schools this September, i.e., the suppression of any struggle by workers to improve wages and all measures to counter the pandemic.

We reject this demand! We refuse to throw away our health and that of our students in schools that will yet again be infested with COVID-19 and threatened by monkeypox with no mitigations in place to protect students and workers. The absence of elementary health and safety measures is an existential threat to all education workers, students and parents.



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