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CUPE has moved swiftly to denounce intimidation tactics by the city of North Battleford against a union leader who last week spoke out against the privatization of the city’s water system.

On October 23, CUPE 287 launched a public campaign to raise awareness about the threat of a public private partnership to build and operate a new sewage treatment plant in the northern Saskatchewan town. The next day local president Barb Plews, a 20-year city employee, received a letter stating that her hours of work would be reduced from 40 to 20 hours a week.

The union has filed an unfair labour practice application against the city and held a news conference to denounce the move.

“The message the city is sending is clear – if you criticize your employer or stand up for your rights, your employment is not secure,” says CUPE Saskatchewan president Tom Graham.

“This long-time employee was defending a vital public service and protecting the jobs of her union members and suddenly her full-time job becomes part-time. The city’s actions are reprehensible.”

CUPE’s unfair labour practice application says the reduction of hours is an act of direct intimidation intended to prevent Plews from performing her duties as local president and a violation of the Trade Union Act.