Students at two local school boards may wind up learning from home if a full strike by education workers goes ahead.
On Friday, both the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Catholic District School Board issued statements saying they would have to close their schools in such an event.
This would only happen if the workers went on a full strike, and not a partial strike or a work-to-rule campaign. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has not said what form the potential job action would take.
The union will be in a legal strike position by Thursday.
About 55,000 workers, including secretaries, custodians, early childhood educators and educational assistants, would be affected. Teachers are not involved in this specific dispute.
Any job action would require five days of advance notice.
“If a provincial agreement is not reached next week, and if there is a full withdrawal of service by CUPE employees, our schools would be closed to students,” said officials at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. “We appreciate that the potential of closing our schools is difficult news, and not a decision we make lightly, but the reality is that without CUPE education workers on-site, we could not ensure safe conditions for all our students.”
Officials at both boards noted it would be difficult to supervise students, provide medical care and ensure that washrooms and water fountains are safely maintained.
“Education workers need an agreement that keeps their wages from falling behind and schools running optimally, and will do whatever possible to drive that message home,” said CUPE representatives on Friday.