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Saskatoon: The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board is holding hearings today and tomorrow into unfair labour practice charges against the Wadena School Division.

The school division home of a four-month strike by school support workers already has been convicted of three unfair labour practice charges during the bitter contract dispute.

The new charges, filed by CUPE 3078 in September, arose after the employer placed an ad in the local newspaper, stating it had decided not to bargain with its striking school support staff for the rest of the calendar year. Instead, it was leaving contract negotiations to the newly created Lakeview Board, which assumes responsibilities for Wadena and parts of two other school divisions on January 1.

The union is claiming the employer has frustrated the collective bargaining process and failed to bargain in good faith.

The collective agreement between CUPE 3078, which represents about 80 school support workers, and the school division expired on December 31, 2000.

The employers bargaining team, led by Saskatchewan School Board Association negotiator Bill Wells, is demanding a long list of concessions.

The school support workers are seeking improved wages. Most earn less than $10,000 a year. They have no dental plan or optical coverage.