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BIGGAR: Support workers in the Biggar Public School Division will mark the 100th day of their strike with the release of 100 balloons outside the school division office in Biggar (102 - 6th Avenue East) at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The balloons, one for every day of the strike, will contain messages calling on the Division Board to settle the strike by negotiating a fair settlement.

Its time for the Biggar School Division Board to get back to the bargaining table and withdraw the contract concessions and takeaways, says Penny McCallum, spokesperson for CUPE Local 2128, which represents the 46 striking school workers. They should stop sacrificing our students and communities.

Negotiations between the union and the Division Board resumed briefly in late April after the CUPE members overwhelmingly rejected the employers final offer that called for major contract concessions. However, McCallum says that management is still insisting on attacking seniority rights, job security and other contract provisions.

It seems that settling this strike is not a priority for this school board, says Bea Devenny, a striking teaching assistant. She says the Division Board has only been willing to come to the bargaining table to negotiate for two out of the last 80 days.

The Division Board has received no mandate from the community to gut our collective agreement, Devenny says, adding that local area citizens have started a petition to call a special meeting of electors under the provision of The Education Act after the school division postponed their annual general meeting.

The petition states the purpose of the special meeting is to call for the resignation of three of the board members from the Division Boards negotiating committee, the discontinuation of the services of Bill Wells, employment officer with the Saskatchewan School Trustee Association, and the immediate removal of all employer concessions from the bargaining table.

The school employees work as caretakers, secretaries, teaching and library assistants in the communities of Biggar, Cando, Sonningdale, Handel, Landis and three Hutterite colonies.

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For more information contact Penny McCallum or Bea Devenny
at Strike Headquarters in Biggar at 948-3860