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Ontario education workers begin work-to-rule campaign as contract talks degrade

Sean Davidson, CTV News Toronto

Published Monday, September 30, 2019 6:26 AM EDT

Last Updated Monday, September 30, 2019 7:20 AM EDT

Thousands of education workers across Ontario have begun a work-to-rule campaign on Monday after last-minute contract negotiations failed.

The union representing 55,000 custodians, clerical workers and early childhood educators across the province made the announcement Sunday after mediation broke down over the weekend.

As part of the work-to-rule campaign, school support workers, including custodians, clerical staff, educational assistants, librarians, food service workers and early childhood educators, will stop working overtime and performing extra duties as part of their job action.

"It is deeply disappointing that CUPE has decided to end talks this weekend, and proceed with a partial withdrawal of services, despite a limited number of outstanding items at the table," Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a news release Sunday.

The minister said the province has asked the mediator for additional bargaining dates to “bring everyone back to the table.” He said student safety is the government's priority during the work-to-rule campaign.

The Toronto District School Board released an advisory to parents warning about a partial withdrawal of services, which include no sweeping of hallways, office areas and gyms.

It also said the schools will not be doing compost or recycling, and there won’t be any ground maintenance. A full list of services impacted is available on its website, the school board said.

“It is important to note that schools will remain open during this work-to-rule and instructional programs will continue to run” the advisory stated.

“During this time, principals and vice-principals will work together with staff to maintain a caring and positive school environment for students.”

Contracts for Ontario's public school teachers and education workers expired Aug. 31, and the major unions are in various stages of bargaining.

With files from The Canadian Press

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