May 5, 2000, BurnabyThe fact that not one ratified agreement has resulted from local bargaining imposed on more than 40 CUPE school locals leaves CUPE school support workers no option but to step up pressure on the provincial government to take its place at the table to negotiate a solution, says Gary Johnson, CUPEs co-ordinator for K-12 bargaining.
“Our members have been clear from the beginning that this dispute can only be settled when they are able to ratify new agreements that provide employment security, a minimum 4-hour shift like all other workers in the province, protection from contracting out and fair wages and benefits.”
Johnson said presidents of CUPE’s school board locals will meet in Richmond Saturday to review a program of action designed to put pressure on Victoria to act.
“Our members will not accept an imposed settlement,” Johnson said. “The crisis in our schools is not over, it’s just beginning unless Victoria, either through the Industrial Inquiry Commission or some other means, puts a fair offer in front of our members.”
“The issues have not gone away in the last month any more than they had during the preceding 18 months,” said Johnson. “nor has there been any move to date, to adequately address the employment security issues that continue to plague CUPE members and to have an adverse affect on school programsparticularly those directed towards special needs children.”
As work begins on CUPEs submission to the IIC local unions are gearing up for projected budget cuts in communities like Prince George, New Westminister, Vancouver and Kamloops, to name a few and the expectation is that CUPE jobs and the services CUPE members provide will once again be on the chopping block.
“District 57, Prince George has already announced major program cuts and more than 160 lay-offs,” said Johnson.
“Our only hope at this point is that government and the IIC understand the seriousness of the current situation,” said Johnson. “We are looking at pandemonium across the K-12 system, unless 15,000 CUPE members are presented with a package that they can approve.”
Louise Leclair, Communications Representative