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WADENA Education workers in Wadena School Division will be picketing outside the Saskatchewan School Trustees office in Regina today to highlight Bill Wells contribution to the protracted labour dispute.

The picket line will be up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the SSTA building, located at 2222 13th Avenue. A rally and speeches will take place at noon.

The 80 school support workers, members of CUPE 3078, are now in their fourth week of a full-scale strike to achieve a fair collective agreement. They have no dental plan, extended health, or optical coverage and they are paid much less than other unionized education workers in the province.

Instead of negotiating improvements, SSTA negotiator Bill Wells and the division board are demanding workers accept reduced seniority rights and other concessions.

The school support workers began rotating job action on April 9 and a full-scale strike on August 25.

Last week, the director of education said the division was prepared to return to the bargaining table for face-to-face meetings with the union. But when provincial conciliator Doug Forseth contacted the employers bargaining representative Bill Wells to arrange dates, he refused to meet.

The provincial conciliator has been trying to secure bargaining dates from the employer since June.

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich questions the school divisions motives in inviting the SSTA representative Bill Wells to head-up bargaining. Given recent history, it should come as no surprise to the division board that negotiations have reached an impasse and resulted in a protracted strike, he said today.

Bill Wells also was the lead negotiator in the Biggar School Division last year, where CUPE support workers had to strike for six months to achieve a fair agreement.

Hubich says the division board should fire Wells and negotiate a made-in-Wadena settlement that values and respects its support staff.

The 80 school support workers are employed as teacher associates, library techs, caretakers, secretaries and other support positions in the division. Schools in Rose Valley, Quill Lake, Kelvington, Wadena, Archerwill and Lintlaw are affected by the strike.

The strikers will take their roving picket line to Quill Lake tomorrow.

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For more information contact Donna Zarowny at 338-7220 (c)