PEEL – Education workers at the Peel District School Board will walk off the job tomorrow to fight benefit concessions demanded by their employer. “We did everything possible to try and avert a strike,” says Tony Pereira, president of Local 2544 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “In the end, the school board decided it is more important to cut our benefits than avoid a disruption in education.” The strike is set to begin after midnight tonight after mediation talks between CUPE 2544 and the School Board broke off last night without achieving a settlement.
CUPE Local 2544 represents 902 custodial and maintenance staff, cafeteria workers, audio-visual technicians and several tradespersons at the Board. They’ve been working without a contract since June of 2000. The workers voted 94% to strike.
Custodial and maintenance staff have never been on strike before.
“We saved the school board over $2-million last year and our department was the only one to come in under budget,” says Pereira. “Instead of thanking us, the Board demanded cuts in benefits from the start of negotiations.”
Facilities service and maintenance had a budget of $72.7 million dollars last year, based on cost per square foot. The Board only used $70.5 million. “Our members’ efficiency and dedication achieved those savings for the Board,” added Pereira. “How could they turn around and try to cut our benefits in return?
“The last thing we wanted was a strike” says Pereira. “We care about the children and we are dedicated to providing the best possible learning environment possible – but we have to stand up for our rights.”
For further information, please contact:
Tony Pereira, President, CUPE Local 2544
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications