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Ontario public servants awarded additional pay in wake of Bill 124 ruling

TORONTO — Ontario public servants have won additional pay increases of 6.5 per cent – the latest in a series of retroactive pay decisions for workers affected by a wage restraint law that was found unconstitutional.

An arbitrator has awarded those members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union the extra pay in response to a “reopener” clause they had in the contract they signed in 2022, which at the time was subject to a law known as Bill 124.

That 2019 law capped salary increases for public sector workers to one per cent a year for three years. 

An Ontario court has declared it unconstitutional, ruling that it infringes on the workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, but the government has appealed.

In the meantime, arbitrators have awarded additional retroactive pay to several groups of workers that had “reopener” clauses in their contracts, including teachers, nurses, other hospital workers, ORNGE air ambulance paramedics, and college faculty.

Combined with the one per cent per year in the public servants’ 2022 contract, the additional pay means they will receive salary increases of three per cent in the first and third years of the deal, and 3.5 per cent in the second year.

“This government may think that their majority means they hold all the power, but this win is proof that when we build worker power and solidarity, workers have the power to fight for what they deserve,” OPSEU president JP Hornick wrote in a statement. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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