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April 11, 2013

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CUPE vows fight on post-secondary cuts

VICTORIA – CUPE has called on the BC government to restore appropriate funding to public post secondary institutions and end budget cuts made on the backs of CUPE workers.

The union resolution came on the heels of a new round of cuts by the University of Victoria. While the Canadian Union of Public Employees BC Division was holding its annual convention downtown, UVic was making service cuts and layoffs to CUPE members on campus.

UVic announced a four-per-cent across-the-board cut to all departments and services in an effort to ‘balance’ its projected 2013-14 budget. The university blames rising costs coupled with more than $4.4 million in funding cuts from the provincial government.

CUPE responded with a resolution backed by locals across BC including the three UVic CUPE locals representing 3,000 workers. The resolution says that funding cuts and the resulting layoffs are unduly increasing the workloads and workplace stress and that if the provincial government was funding BC universities properly, they would not need to cut CUPE jobs.

CUPE Local 4163 president Greg Melnechuk says a large number of sessional instructors have already lost their jobs or had their hours cut at UVic while CUPE Local 951 president Doug Sprenger said 35 of his members have lost work. The result is larger classes, heavier workloads, fewer student services and reduced library and learning services.

CUPE 951 chief steward Laurie Whyte says “the current cuts are deeper than anything over the past 22 years at UVic”, adding that, “these cuts include workers that have been here from nine months to 22 years.”  She added that “UVic seems to see government budget cuts as an opportunity to create a corporate model at the expense of workers and services.”

CUPE Local 917, which represents UVic outside workers, hasn’t had layoffs, but president Rob Park says chronic government underfunding has already cut janitorial service and created longer response times for campus maintenance.

“That UVic would even contemplate farming out a fundamental service like its proposed new bio-mass plant to a private foreign company at this time shows how far down the wrong path UVic has come,” says Park, adding that, “when costs go up and services go down it reduces the options for our children in the future.”

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