UPDATE: CUPE school support staff vote in favour of a strike

The flag of CUPE Ontario is seen at McMaster University in Hamilton.

A major union representing education workers in Ontario says its members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a potential strike that could take effect by the end of the month.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says 93 per cent of its 55,000 members voted in favour of job action, putting them in a legal strike position as of Sept. 30.

Speaking to Newstalk 1010 Monday night, Laura Walton, President of CUPE's Ontario School Board Council of Unions, admits she's not surprised with the resounding numbers.

"We've been listening to our members, We've done a lot of work going around the province talking to the people we represent. You know we just needed to give them a chance to have their voice heard, they showed up in record numbers to give us an overwhelming response, so we know that they're ready to go." 

The union says that while it intends to continue bargaining with the Ontario government and hopes to avoid a strike, its members are concerned about recent changes to the province's education system.

The measures include increases to average class sizes, shifts towards online learning models and a gradual reduction in the number of working teachers.

The changes were implemented over the past year by the Progressive Conservatives under Premier Doug Ford.

Walton adds that CUPE's preference is to continue talking to the province and avoid strike action, but the overwhelming vote is a loud and clear message.

"If we can get that done without having a strike great. If not, it is an option available to us and we will be prepared to hold those lines as we would in any other strike situation."

 

with files from Newstalk 1010