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VICTORIA, B.C. Despite a $2.5 million deficit and expected tuition hikes, the Camosun College board of governors has awarded a 5-20 per cent wage increase to administrative staff members while 36 unionized workers are being laid off.

This is unfair and unacceptable, CUPE Local 2081 president Keith Todd said. Thirty-one layoff notices now have been served to CUPE support staff, and faculty has just been hit with 19 more layoffs. Five other notices went to staff members in another union.

It seems that only the administration is immune to cuts or sharing the financial load of the deficit, Todd said. It also seems that education at Camosun has now become a business, not a right for the future work force of B.C.

The college began the last fiscal year with a $1.8 million deficit that arose out of a failed attempt at creating an entrepreneurial Idea Centre. Now there is an estimated shortfall of more than $3.8 million for the 2002-2003 fiscal year due to provincial government cuts. If compounded, the deficit will be $10.9 million in the third year.

The question raised is what is reasonable in a time of deficit and what is fair, Todd said. The college president or CEO, as she refers to herself, has accepted a $10,000 a year increase plus added vacation and benefits over the next three years. This brings her salary to $155,000.

Cuts to services and an increase in tuition fees clearly show that affordable, quality post-secondary education is in jeopardy, Todd added.

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Keith Todd, President, CUPE Local 2081, 250-370-3783.