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CUPE is challenging trustees of Edmonton Public Schools to “do the right thing” and refuse to accept cuts to custodial staff or reduce custodial hours in order to balance school budgets.

“These are the lowest paid workers in the district and we fail to see how further cuts to custodial staff can have any positive outcome,” says CUPE 474 president Doug Luellman. “These cuts save schools less money than putting a freeze on new computer purchases yet they could have a negative impact on the health and safety of students and staff and the public using our schools.”

A similar battle is underway in western Newfoundland where members of CUPE 3148 are fighting cuts to maintenance positions. There they’ve vowed to make the cuts an election issue.

Five positions were cut over the summer, creating a situation that is “both unsafe and unworkable,” says Newfoundland and Labrador division president Wayne Lucas.

The school board has also reduced secretarial hours. Says Lucas, “Secretarial personnel provide front-line, face-to-face or over-the-phone response to parents and others who contact or enter the school.

“Along with caretakers, we are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the school and yet we continue to receive the short end of the stick when it comes to staffing.”