Rights funeral 7pm Queens Park

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Devastated by a far-reaching anti-worker bill set to pass legislature early next week, education workers will convene a funeral for collective bargaining rights on the lawn of Queen’s Park, Monday September 10, at 7 pm.

Workers and friends will reflect on our loss and ready ourselves for Tuesday morning Sept 11th when Liberal Bill 115 is expected to pass 3rd and final reading with support from Conservatives.

The facebook page  asks that participants “…wear appropriate funeral attire. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to an organization, of your choice, that defends workers or quality public education.”
Background from “facebook.com/Funeral for Collective Bargaining” :
The solemn ceremony comes after education workers spent weeks trying to stop the legislation by lobbying Members of Provincial Parliament, rallying at Queen’s Park, and addressing the public through the media.

The funeral will be a starting point for ongoing activism against the province’s attack on labour rights.

“We need to come together to mourn yet another loss for workers”, says elementary teacher Pamela Dogra. “But this is only the beginning of a long-term struggle to regain and extend labour rights in this province, and to restore respect for the labour of education workers. When education workers are told they can have no say in their working conditions and their students’ learning conditions, the education sector ceases to be an attractive and respectful source of employment. Excellent workers will simply look for work elsewhere. This deteriorates the quality of our public education system, and kids will suffer.”

The Putting Students First Act, introduced by Liberal Minister of Education Laurel Broten on August 28, would set a chilly precedent for all workers in Ontario. The legislation would ban strikes and lockouts in the education sector for a minimum of two years. It stipulates that all collective agreements abide by the terms contained in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Catholic teachers’ union and the government. The MOU contains a wage freeze, cuts to sick days, and cuts to retirement gratuities. Because education workers negotiate their contracts with their employers – local school boards – the legislation would destroy the bargaining process by imposing the terms of agreement.

“This legislation savages years of improvements in education made through cooperation between teachers, boards, and the government. This will not benefit students in any way,” says secondary teacher Bruce Lyne. “Imposed agreements take away the voice of parents and students who engage with local school boards and teachers. We think that taking away local bargaining effectively compromises community control of education.”

In addition, the legislation would subject all education sector collective agreements to direct Ministerial approval. Any agreements coming out of the act would not, however, be subject to the Ontario Human Rights Code or to court challenges.

“The government is acting as if it is above the law,” says secondary teacher Jason Kunin. “This is an attack on the labour rights of all Ontarians, including our children and youth, who will have fewer good unionized jobs available to them now and in the future if this legislation goes through.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has called the act unconstitutional and undemocratic, and lawyers are preparing to launch a Charter challenge in the courts once the act is passed.

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