Ontario has withdrawn its request to have the education strike declared illegal

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Ontario has withdrawn its request to have the strike in education declared illegal

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford had promised to repeal his special law if the Canadian Union of Public Employees ended the walkout. (Archives)

The Ontario Labor Relations Board said Friday that the Ford government has withdrawn its request to have the walkout of 55,000 workers declared illegal. education a week ago.

Workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) walked off Friday, November 4, after the government passed a special law that decreed their working conditions for four years and prohibited them from resorting to strike action.

However, on the second day of that strike, Monday, Premier Doug Ford promised to repeal the law if all 55,000 employees returned to work. CUPE immediately announced the suspension of the strike call.

The walkout of 55,000 education workers has suspended in-person learning in hundreds of schools across Ontario.

The Ontario Labor Relations Board says government lawyers said Wednesday they were withdrawing the motion and that CUPE had consented to the withdrawal.

The Labor Relations Board heard the government's complaint in a marathon session late last week. CUPE lawyers had argued that the strike, illegal under the special law, was nonetheless a legitimate political protest.

The government had used the notwithstanding clause to to guard against constitutional challenges to the special law, which stripped workers of the right to strike, guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The special law provided for fines of up to up to $4,000 per employee per strike day and up to $500,000 per day for the union.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ford said said earlier this week that a bill to repeal the special law will be introduced next Monday in the Legislative Assembly.

With information from La Presse canadienne

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