Strike looms at Durham Public School Board

    OSHAWA, ON, March 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Over 70,000 students and 133 schools
could be without educational assistants (EAs), custodial, maintenance, office,
clerical and technical staff, following the Durham Public School Board's
failure to deal with workload and other issues in mediation talks last week.
Two thousand workers at the board, represented by the Canadian Union of Public
Employees (CUPE), will be in a legal strike or lockout position at 12:01 am,
on March 21.
    "Management seemed to be on an early March break, because they weren't
interested in any of our proposed solutions to workload and other contract
issues," said Don Bryans, president of CUPE 218. "Management refused CUPE's
offer to continue negotiations this week, in advance of the legal strike
deadline - it appears they are prepared to jeopardize education in our
communities with a strike or lockout that will hurt students."
    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 and benefits, job postings and
seniority language. The workers' last contract expired in the winter of 2006.
    "This board should be demanding adequate funding from the provincial
government to deal with the growing population, instead of fighting their own
workers," said Bryans. "Trustees need to pressure the Ontario government to
fix the flawed funding formula, and stop short-changing students and pushing
staff to the breaking point."
    "The Catholic board has given staff additional time to do their work -
it's not fair for students in the public board to be left behind," said
Bryans. "We are urging parents and residents to contact management and their
school trustees, to demand they return to the bargaining table and make a fair
contract offer before the strike deadline." A strike or lockout would affect
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, (905) 433-4760, (289) 404-0797
cell; James Chai, CUPE Communications, (416) 292-3999

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