OTTAWA, Ont. – School board workers with the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic District School Board, represented by Local 2357 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), have asked a provincial conciliation officer to assist with negotiations, to try and avert a strike that could affect thousands of students in the Ottawa-Carleton area.
“Management wants to exclude casual and part-time workers from benefits and unilaterally change the hours of staff who work with disabled children to suit management’s needs, not the students’ needs,” said Lori Ladouceur, president of CUPE 2357. “They already force support staff who call in sick to phone around and find their own replacements, and now they want to cut sick-leave provisions. If things don’t improve in conciliation talks, we could be facing a strike in March.” Conciliation talks are set to begin February 14th.
CUPE represents over 900 workers at the board, including office and administration, special education staff, school support staff, library and computer technicians and secretaries.
“The school board unilaterally changed our benefit plan and refuses to adopt a uniform policy to prevent violence in the workplace for special education staff,” said Ladouceur. The union tabled a proposal to equip special education staff with walkie-talkies to enable staff to call for assistance in a violent situation, but so far the school board has rejected that proposal. CUPE has also requested proper training to deal with inappropriate behaviours in a safe and helpful way.
“Our struggle is not about money, and the board hasn’t even discussed monetary issues,” said Ladouceur. “We’re fighting for respect and fair treatment, and if the school board refuses to back away from concessions, we are heading for a strike.”
For further information, please contact:
President, CUPE 2357
CUPE National Representative