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TORONTO After eight months on strike to defend their pensions, child care workers with Canadas oldest day care centre have been told the centre is closing and theyre out of a job.

Representatives of the striking workers sat down with management Tuesday (February 6) to seek a resolution to the dispute. Instead they were hit with an ultimatum and a gag order.

This is an outrage, said Diane Dobusz, spokesperson for striking workers at Victoria Day Care. Its typical of the high-handedness and incompetence this employer has shown from the start of this dispute. First they mismanaged the pension fund, and now theyve run the centre into the ground.

The workers were told the centre was closing immediately because it had run up a deficit over the course of the strike. Management offered workers two weeks severance pay on the condition they agreed to keep the closure secret. The employees, some of whom have worked with the centre for 17 years, refused to be muzzled.

Our centre provided top quality care to children who really needed us special needs kids and the children of immigrant mothers living in downtown Toronto, said Dobusz. We have people waiting years to find a child care space in the centre of the city and now this board says its going to fold up operations because they cant manage. We wont stand for it, said the veteran child care worker.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the workers, has said it will explore every avenue available to prevent the closure.

We cant allow these child care spaces to be lost or these workers to be sacrificed, said CUPE National President Judy Darcy. Were going to mobilize our allies in the child care community and on Toronto city council to save Victoria Day Care.

Children and workers have been caught between a board thats completely irresponsible and a province thats trying to starve child care centres into surrender, said Darcy. Well the board may have thrown in the towel, but were determined to fight.

The 25 members of CUPE Local 2563 have been on strike since June 29, 2000. The Victoria Day Care, located at the corner of Jarvis and Wellesley, offered group care to 90 children and co-ordinated home care for another 260 children.

For more information, contact:

Dianne Dobusz, Local 2563 Spokesperson
(416) 535-7521
Judy Darcy, CUPE National President
(613) 237-1590 (o)
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep.
(416) 292-3999 (o)