WAINWRIGHT - Strike replacement workers hired by Buffalo Trail School Division are costing the school division money, smoking on school grounds, and have been accused of leering at female students.
CUPE Alberta President Bruce McLeod called on the school board to stop using replacement workers and focus instead on ending the strike by CUPE members. McLeod made his comments at a rally of striking employees today.
McLeod said the school board has hired systems analysts at $75/hour, a wage rate far above what CUPE is asking for at the bargaining table.
“Trustees are willing to pay a higher wage for replacement workers than our members are even asking for,” said McLeod. “No wonder these employees took strike action, there is clearly no respect for the work they do.”
Replacement cleaners have been spotted smoking on school grounds, even though CUPE members are told not to smoke within sight of any school. McLeod also said that the union has heard of complaints from two female high school students that replacement cleaners were leering at young women.
“Rather than working to end this strike, the trustees have turned over our schools and our children to just about anyone who will chase a few bucks,” said McLeod. “This kind of behavior isn’t accepted from our members, and it shouldn’t be accepted from anyone.”
One area where school trustees have had trouble finding replacement workers is for teaching assistants, who assist with special needs students. McLeod said that the schools have tried to hire substitute teachers to do the work, but teachers appear to be refusing.
“Teachers are saying no to doing our work for the trustees,” said McLeod. “In effect, they too are telling trustees to settle the strike.”
“Trustees have a choice. They can continue creating chaos in the schools, they can continue to shut out special needs kids, or they can offer CUPE members a fair wage increase,” said McLeod. “They have that option.”
For information about the strike visit www.cupealberta.ab.ca