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Winnipeg CUPE members who have been on strike for eleven days say the River East School Division is using a scheduled maintenance check to bring in strike-breakers rather than get back to serious negotiations that would put the bus drivers back on the road.

This is simply a diversion tactic, an attempt to get around the fact that the School Division is prolonging this unnecessary strike, CUPE staff representative Mark Kernaghan said. If River East is really serious about a safe and timely return to work as their letter states, then why arent they doing everything possible to negotiate a settlement and get the bus drivers back on the road.

Kernaghan said River Easts decision to engage an outside maintenance group is counter productive and will only make matters worse.

Our members do the regular maintenance, he said. They are familiar with these buses and what needs to be done so they are the best mechanics qualified to do the work. The School Division should be doing everything it can to get them back on the job and end the unnecessary problems their stalling is causing students and parents.

The 52 bus drivers, mechanics and a storeskeeper of CUPE Local 796 have been off the job since November 10th. At issue is a no contracting out clause in the current agreement between CUPE and the River East School Division. The CUPE members say they are fighting to keep their work and that contracting out their jobs will only lead to higher costs, a loss of accountability and flexibility, and questionable service down the road.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canadas largest union representing more than 485,000 women and men across the country. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 23,000 members in health care, education, municipalities, social services, utilities, libraries and emergency services.

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For more information, please contact:
Mark Kernaghan, CUPE Temporary Staff Representative

Phone: (204) 942-0343 ex. 290