The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which includes custodians, administrative assistants, safety monitors, and library workers, have been on Phase 2 of a work-to-rule campaign since late September.

The 55 000 staff members under CUPE have been without contract for 14 months. Without contracts, staff do not have certain conditions in writing. This includes having a set number of sick days, a guaranteed regular pay, and needing legitimate reasons to be fired. When government cuts including turning a full-time positions to half-time positions started, CUPE began Phase 1 of the work-to-rule campaign on 10 September.

As part of the work-to-rule, CUPE has instructed staff members on what services to provide and which services to stop providing. For example, custodians have been told to cease sweeping entrances, wiping chalkboards, and participating in the school compost program. Librarians working for the city of Toronto have been told not to fix the photocopier, complete any paperwork, or change displays. A complete list of services that will not be provided can be found on the TDSB website.

Although staff members must participate in the work-to-rule, some feel that establishing a work-to-rule does not improve the situation. Doug Walker, a custodian at MGCI, said, “We don’t like that we can’t work to the best of our abilities [while still being paid].”

Labour negotiations between CUPE and the Government of Ontario and public school boards are still ongoing. The negotiations are also still in progress with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) while an agreement has recently been made with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF). Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, has given the unions until 1 November to reach an agreement. If this is not done, the government will start to deduct pay.