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(Halifax) Instructional support staff with the Halifax Regional School Board have sent an emphatic message to their employer they are no longer willing to be treated like second class employees.

In a strong show of support for their union, the 700 Educational Program Assistants (EPAs), Library Staff and Student Support Workers have voted 97% in favour a strike.

The members of CUPE Local 108 have been working without a contract since July 31, 2003.

CUPE National Representative Larry Power says, This is an overwhelming strike mandate from these employees. The Board now has its answer on the series of concessions and takeaways they have put on the bargaining table. Local 108 members have spoken with one voice, and have said the offer is totally unacceptable.

Says Power, It has become clear to these employees that the Board strategy of continually reducing the number of full-time positions and replacing them with part-time positions is having a dramatic impact of the quality of service being provided particularly for special needs children. Instructional support staff have had enough and are saying to the Board, the job cuts and staffing reductions must end now.

More than any one thing, though, says Power, these 700 workers who provide a vitally important service in our schools deserve to be treated with respect. Judging from the result of this strike vote, I think parents, students and other HRM community members can draw their own conclusions about how little of that they are receiving from the school board.

For information:
Larry Power, CUPE National Rep.
454-6369 (o) - 225-2729 (Cell)
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep.
455-4180 (o)