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KELOWNA, B.C. British Columbias largest union yesterday advised School District 23 trustees not to vote for custodial layoffs to address massive budget cuts when they meet on Wednesday.

Dont be browbeaten and threatened by the Campbell Liberals into abandoning our childrens birthright to a safe, healthy learning environment, CUPE BC president Barry ONeill said.

The CUPE leader is on a tour of Okanagan communities that began here Monday. He is promoting CUPEs Strong Communities campaign as part of the fight to save B.C. communities from Liberal attacks.

The Central Okanagan School District could lay off as many as 20 custodial staff to help pay for a $5.5 million cut imposed by the Campbell Liberals. They are talking about a drastic reduction in services for special needs kids, ONeill said. But it is also a blow to the viability of our public school system.

When Education Minister Christy Clark is finished experimenting with our childrens futures those kids also will face massive tuition hikes at Okanagan University College and other post-secondary institutions, he added.

What does Liberal MLA John Weisbeck say about that? he asked. He used to run around saying the college was underfunded. Now that hes in Victoria he has voted to freeze funding.

When will Bill Barisoff, who sat as a trustee for 18 years, speak out? He knows that his party is destroying the school system.

CUPE school board workers (CUPE represents about 23,000 province-wide) say the possible layoffs could mean 15 percent reduction in custodial staff and a 10 percent reduction in clerical staff and cuts to certified education assistants and could create chaos in the schools.

Dont abandon your community to jump on the Liberal cuts bandwagon, ONeill said. Fight them for the sake of all our children, Fight the cuts!

ONeill will be touring in Vernon today and Kamloops Wednesday.


Ron Verzuh, CUPE communications representative,
(604) 785-1422.