Ontario withdraws labor board case seeking to declare CUPE strike illegal

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The Ontario Labor Relations Board says the provincial government has withdrawn its request to have the walkout of 55,000 education workers declared illegal.

Workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) went on strike last Friday after the government passed a law imposing a contract and banning the strike.

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford promised to repeal the law if workers ended their strike, and CUPE said workers would be back at work the next day.

The walkout had closed hundreds of schools to in-person learning.

The Ontario Labor Relations Board says government lawyers told the board on Wednesday they were withdrawing the province’s request and that CUPE legal counsel had consented to the withdrawal.

CUPE and the government returned to the bargaining table on Tuesday and negotiations are continuing.

The labor board had heard the case in a weekend marathon session.

Government lawyers had asked the council to declare CUPE’s strike « illegal » and the actions of union leaders « unlawful », while CUPE lawyers had argued that the strike was a « legitimate political protest ».

The government’s law, which used the notwithstanding clause to guard against constitutional challenges, had set fines for violating the legislation at a maximum of $4,000 per employee per day and up to $500,000 per day for the union.

A Ford spokeswoman said new legislation to repeal the Education Workers Bill would be introduced on Monday.

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