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NORTH BAY, Ont. Office, clerical and technical (OCT) employees of the Near North District School Board have voted 99 per cent to give a strike mandate to the negotiating committee of Local 1165 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 100 affected workers.

“We are fighting for fairness and trying to prevent the board from applying discriminatory contract provisions on this mostly female workforce,” said CUPE national representative Monique Drapeau. “In contract talks, the board has tabled concessions around benefits and offered lower wage increases to the secretarial and office group than a recently-settled contract with custodian/maintenance workers.”

The employer’s demands include concessions attached to OCT benefit coverage, making it more difficult for the office, clerical and technical staff to take unpaid leave, a longer working day (extending hours from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm, compared to 8:00 am to 4:30 pm currently), and other concessions.

“We won’t let this board play divide and conquer with our members,” said Drapeau. “It’s shameful for the board to pit one group of workers against the other by offering a lower wage increase to this group, after settling a contract with custodian/maintenance workers. They’re also trying to pit the office and clerical staff against the technical staff.”

The union has asked for the help of a provincial conciliator to try and prevent a strike, and has requested further meetings with the employer.

“We are committed to resolving this situation fairly,” said Drapeau. “But if the board doesn’t change it’s attitude of unfairness, there could be a strike. Unfortunately, if that happens, it’s the children who will ultimately pay the price. Let’s hope management doesn’t go down that road.”

For further information, please contact:
Monique Drapeau, CUPE National Representative, CUPE North Bay Area Office, 705-474-9765;
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications, 416-292-3999.