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April 27, 2000, Penticton Victorias attempt to impose a collective agreement on school support workers has simply prolonged the crisis in B.C.s school system, not ended it, says Barry ONeill, president of CUPE B.C.

In a letter delivered to the annual meeting of the B.C. School Trustees where he had been scheduled to speak but was forced to cancel due to transportation difficulties, ONeill warned that “CUPE does not accept the right of Victoria to impose an agreement on our members its wrong, its bad for our education system and that means its bad for our kids.

“I want to give you a clear warning today,” ONeill said. “An imposed agreement using a legislative hammer will solve nothing. The crisis continues and will erupt next fall or sooner unless government can work with us to find ways to achieve a negotiated settlement ratified by our members.”

ONeill told trustees his union is developing an action plan to drive its message home to Victoria. “I want to absolutely clear,” ONeill said. “CUPE school workers have not given up, have not gone away theyre just getting organized for the next round.”

The provincial government passed unprecedented legislation April 2 imposing an end to a legal strike by 47 CUPE locals. The legislation also mandates an Industrial Inquiry Commission to impose a collective agreement if local bargaining does not achieve negotiated settlements by May 4.

ONeill told trustees an acceptable collective agreement must include some key elements: protection from lay-offs, protection from contracting-out, a minimum four-hour call out, a fair wage package and improvements in benefits. The union also is seeking development of province-wide standards in a bargaining structure that is flexible enough to recognize local realities.

For more information:

Louise Leclair, CUPE Communications Representative

(604) 291-1940