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May 17, 2000, BurnabyCUPE representatives are reacting cautiously but positively to an invitation by the Industrial Inquiry Commission (IIC), to attend a bargaining session this weekend that could result in a template reaching agreements between School Districts and School Locals right across the province. The mediated bargaining will take place between seven CUPE locals on Vancouver Island and a group of Vancouver Island districts who bargain under the banner, Vancouver Island Labour Relations Council (VILRC) seven of nine Vancouver Island districts have agreed to coordinate bargaining.

But the union is also reinforcing its position that CUPE members on Vancouver Island and across the province will vote on any final recommendations made by bargaining committees or the IIC this weekend, or at any time.

“Were pleased that the IIC is prepared to give mediated bargaining the opportunity to work,” said Barry ONeill, President of CUPE BC. “Now we expect the commissioners to go one step further and recommend that workers retrieve their right to full and fair collective bargainingand that includes a vote.”

Vancouver Island Districts previously involved in a Vancouver Island Labour Relations Council (VILRC) that failed at regional negotiations in March, blatantly refused to bargain at local tables during the 30-day period following the establishment of the IIC through legislation (Bill 7) last April 2, 2000.

“So, yes,” said ONeill, ” CUPE members will participate and attempt this co-ordinated approach once again. After all a co-ordinated approach in line with what government had proposed some time ago was what CUPE has been attempting for months nowwithout success or the support to ensure successful co-ordinated bargaining. In any case let us hope that this is the beginning of the end of the charade that CUPE members, parents and other school staff have been experiencing for a long time.”

CUPE will continue its pressure campaign to ensure that its members are presented with fair recommendations to vote on; recommendations that reflect concerns with employment security, a four hour minimum, some resolution to the serious threats to services and jobs related to contracting-out of basic services and fair wages and benefits.

15,000 CUPE members were legislated back to work after a one-week strike on April 2, 2000. The workers represent K-12 school support workers who are special needs assistants, custodians, clerical support, technicians, maintenance and grounds, food services workers, noon-hour supervisors, crossing-guards and bus driverspeople who provide and maintain the infrastructure of BCs public education system.

For more information:
Louise Leclair, CUPE Communications Representative
(604) 291-1940 or 454-4711

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