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Civil Servants Strike In Ontario

Tue., Feb. 27, 1996

More than 30,000 public employees, ranging from prison guards to snowplow drivers, launched the first civil service strike ever in Ontario on Monday to protest government plans to slash jobs.

“We’re going to have as many people out and cause as much pain for the employer as possible,” said Leah Casselman, head of the 67,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

The strike had immediate impact, halting paperwork for drivers’ licenses and health insurance, delaying clean-up after a highway collision, and reducing staff at prisons and mental hospitals to skeleton crews.

The strike is the sternest challenge yet to Conservative Premier Mike Harris, who has provoked repeated protests since his election last June by slashing welfare payments, reducing funding to local governments and scrapping a ban on the use of strikebreakers.

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