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BIGGAR: Support workers in the Biggar Public School Division have unanimously approved the tentative agreement reached on August 20, bringing an end to a six and a half month strike.

The hard work, determination, and perseverance of our members and bargaining committee have enabled us to achieve our bargaining objectives and to protect our seniority rights and job security, said Marian Kimber, president of CUPE Local 2128.

The 46 teaching and library assistants, caretakers and secretaries voted to approve the agreement at a ratification meeting held yesterday. The Division Board ratified the contract on August 20.

The new contract includes a total monetary package of 21.2% over the four-year term of the agreement, which covers the period January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2004.

We were able to negotiate a fair wage increase for all classifications, said Kimber. Support workers will receive wage increases of 3.5, 3, 3 and 3 percent over the four-year term of the agreement. In addition, the contract will reclassify secretaries, teaching and library assistants to higher pay grades, which will result in a total wage increase of 22.8% for these classifications over the term of the contract.

The support workers will receive an additional 1.5% for enhancements to the dental plan and a new extended health package.

The union was successful in protecting seniority rights and job security language from concessions, which the Division Board was demanding from the beginning of the labour dispute.

The new contract also contains improvements to compassionate, maternity and adoption leave and a commitment by the Board to adopt a policy on assisted training opportunities for support staff by the end of the year.

Kimber thanked the students, parents and residents of Biggar, Cando, Sonningdale, Landis and the two Hutterite colonies for their patience and support over the last half-year.

Our union wishes to express our deepest, heartfelt gratitude to all the individuals and unions throughout our province and across the country that have supported us throughout this six and a half month strike, said Kimber. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this fair collective agreement without their support.

We are looking forward to returning to our jobs, and serving our students, schools, and communities. This will enable the healing process to begin.

The strike by the support workers began on February 4. It was the longest education strike in Saskatchewans history.

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For further information call
’Penny McCallum at 948-5347,
Bea Devenny at 948-5490 or
staff representative Bill Robb at 382-8262.