Strike at Durham Public School Board over workload

    OSHAWA, ON, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Twenty-one hundred educational
assistants (EAs), custodial, maintenance, office, clerical and technical staff
at Durham Public School Board will be walking the picket line at 7:00 am,
Wednesday, March 21, following the board's failure to deal with workload and
other issues in mediation talks.
    "We tried very hard to reach a negotiated settlement with the school
board, but they refused to deal with crushing workloads," said Don Bryans,
president of CUPE 218. "We asked for more time with students, because we
currently don't have enough time to finish our work and this board proposed
adding only one day a year for EAs - that would work out to roughly 1.5
minutes a day. This goes to show how little they understand what's required
and how little they respect our work."
    High population growth in the Durham region and chronic underfunding by
the provincial government have led to increased workloads, while board
management has failed to increase staff or hours of work accordingly. Instead
of dealing with the workload issues, management downloaded extra duties to
EAs, without providing additional work time, and asked clerical staff to take
work home without pay, while insisting on part-time, band-aid schemes that
fail to address full-time workload problems for custodial and maintenance
workers. Other outstanding issues include wages, benefits and job postings.
    "This board isn't even allocating existing funds provided by the
provincial government for wage increases for frontline staff - they haven't
left us much choice but to go on strike to obtain a fair contract," said
Bryans. Picket lines will be set up at the Durham District School Board, 400
Taunton Road East, Whitby at 7:00 am on Wednesday.
    "Parents and residents should be furious with their school trustees, for
failing to take negotiations seriously and jeopardizing the education of
70,000 students." The strike affects 133 schools in Ajax, Brock, Oshawa,
Pickering, Scugog, Uxbridge and Whitby.

For further information:

For further information: Don Bryans, President CUPE 218, (905) 571-7879;
Joanne Wilson, CUPE National Representative, (289) 404-0797 (cell); James
Chai, CUPE Communications, (416) 292-3999, (416) 458-3983 (cell)

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