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REGINA The union that represents 3,500 school support workers in the province is serving notice to Education Minister Jim Melenchuk that its members expect to receive at least the same percentage wage increase as teachers. Union spokesperson Frank Mentes says support staff wont tolerate second-class treatment.

CUPE was responding to the Education Ministers comments in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on Saturday that the government is prepared to cover the costs for the teachers contract 100%, but wont be providing any direct funds to cover other collective agreements with regard to other staffs.

Mentes, a support worker in the Regina School Board and member of CUPE Education Workers Executive, says the union expects the provincial government to recognize the needs of school support staff in the same way it has recognized the needs of teachers. The cost-of-living has gone up for everyone working in the K-12 education system, not just teachers, he states.

CUPE education workers, which include teacher and library assistants, school secretaries, maintenance staff, school bus drivers, social workers, computer technicians, and home and school liaison staff also want Minister Melenchuk to increase school operating grants to reduce the financial strain on the K-12 system. School buildings are deteriorating, staff workloads are increasing and students are sharing textbooks due to a drop in financial support from the government, Mentes says.

The provincial government used to cover 60% of the costs of K-12 education.

Now it provides only 40%, with local property owners shouldering the balance.

Mentes says before the Saskatchewan government spends any more money on tax cuts, it should provide adequate funding for the staff and students in the K-12 system.

For further information, contact CUPE Education Workers Executive Members:
Frank Mentes in Regina
791-8696 (w) or 797-1189 (pager)
Brigitte Scott in Saskatoon
668-7480 (w) or 653-5558 (h)

BS/ng opeiu 491