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The union representing about 55,000 Ontario education workers says almost no progress was made over three days of contract talks with the government, and negotiations will resume just two days before they will be in a legal strike position.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says the mediator who was assisting with bargaining this week has concluded the two sides are too far apart and talks should be adjourned.

The parties are set to return to the table Nov. 1 for an indeterminate amount of time.

Education workers represented by CUPE are in a legal strike position as of Nov. 3 and Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions says it’s “very possible” they could move to a full strike, instead of starting with a work-to-rule campaign.

Ms. Walton says in previous bargaining, work-to-rule didn’t provide enough pressure, noting that in 2019 CUPE and the government reached a last-minute deal the day before workers had been set to go on a full strike.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says CUPE is “trying to disrupt in-class learning by refusing to compromise” on what he calls unreasonable demands.

CUPE is looking for annual salary increases of 11.7 per cent for workers such as custodians, early childhood educators and administration staff and the government in response has offered raises of 2 per cent a year for workers making less than $40,000 and 1.25 per cent for all others.

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