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The 52 members of CUPE Local 796 in Winnipeg went on strike November 10 to keep their River East School Division employer from watering down their present contracting out language.

Without the present clause in our collective agreement, it would be impossible for us to hold the school division to its verbal assurances not to contract out our work, said Local 796 spokesperson Dave Spender.

CUPE representative Rik Panciera said the local decided to take a stand now rather than concede to their employers demand to scrap the clause for weaker language which would jeopardize their jobs.

It was clear to us that the school division wanted the changes because they intend to start contracting out work done by the members bargaining unit, Panciera said. They made no real attempt to resolve the issue or avert the strike.

Three thousand of the divisions 13,200 students have been forced to find their own transportation to get to school during the work stoppage.