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November 5, 1999, Surrey, BC–After one year of negotiations, the Surrey School District is forcing non-teaching female workers in the district to go to arbitration to get their provincially funded pay equity monies.

Susan Zander, President of CUPE Local 728, says “This Board is trying to take advantage of the workers in Surrey through the Pay Equity Agreement. Female workers in this district deserve the same agreement other school district workers have received across the province.” Surrey is the only district in the province unable to complete the Pay Equity process.

No other school district in the province has gone to arbitration on the distribution of Pay Equity funds. The Funds are dedicated by the provincial government to eliminate wage discrimination between male and female jobs.

“It is clear that this school board does not respect female workers in Surrey. They want to strip away seniority rights from some workers and down grade some female and male jobs in an exchange for an agreement”, says Zander. “This was never the intention of pay equity.”

“Just like the issue of banning books in Surrey Schools, this Board is taking a 19th century position as we enter into the 21st century. They need to re-evaluate their position before this gets out of hand”, says Zander.

“The Board seems to be entrenching itself in costly legal challenges whether it be the book banning, settlement of grievances or the implementation of Pay Equity. They need to re-evaluate their position and spend the budget on education and support of students.” says Zander.

District 36 has refused the help of the Public Sector Employers Council to resolve this dispute. In a letter to Associate Superintendent Human Resources, Brian Bastien, PSEC expresses its disappointment with the District’s refusal to use their services. The Public Sector Council Secretariat requested the Surrey School District reconsider its position and use their services to see if this dispute could be resolved.

Information: Bill Harper