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May 11, 2001 (Cornwall, PEI) PEI members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) voted overwhelmingly to take a stand against workload levels that have become unsafe and unhealthy.

It is time to demand more staff, take our breaks and refuse to work unpaid overtime. It is also time to be compensated for the damage workload and stress are wreaking on our bodies and our lives, says CUPE National President Judy Darcy. The Canadian Union of Public Employees is declaring war on work overload.

The vote was taken at the annual convention of CUPE PEI, which was attended by more than 100 delegates from across the province.

We work through our breaks. We work through our lunches. We are working longer hours and additional unpaid hours, says Donalda MacDonald, President of CUPE PEI. Enough is enough. Our members are telling us that workload is going to be a major issue in negotiations and in our workplaces.

Convention delegates voted on a resolution submitted by the executive of CUPE PEI. It stated that CUPE members in all sectors are dealing with increasing on-the-job stresses caused by chronic government under-funding, privatization, staffing shortages and workplace amalgamations. Calling work overload a modern-day epidemic, that leads to unhealthy levels of stress and to on-the-job injuries, the resolution called for CUPE PEI to make workload a major focus for campaigns and negotiations this year.

From coast to coast, our members are telling me that the pressure of excessive workload is costing them their health. We know of one member who experienced such incredible stress from work overload that he took his own life, adds Judy Darcy, CUPEs National President. It is unacceptable that workers should have to choose between their jobs and their health. It is unacceptable that Premier Binns can brag about a budget surplus, yet he cant find the funds to address the workload crisis. In PEI, our members are fed up and we arent going to take it any more.

A cross-Canada poll of Canadian workers conducted by Ekos earlier this year revealed that 52% of public sector workers identify heavy workload as a significant problem. The poll also found that public sector workers work more overtime than those in the private sector. Stress arising from workload is of particular concern in the education (74%) and social services sectors (72%).

CUPE is the one of the largest unions in PEI, representing more than 2 200 workers across the province.


For more information:
Laurie Kingston, CUPE Communications, 613-266-1415 (cell).