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Chignecto schools strike vote passes

More than 17,000 students in the Chignecto Regional School Board will have to find their own way to school Monday as a possible strike has cancelled bus service.

17,000 students without transit starting Monday

Chignecto-area school buses will stay locked up Monday. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

More than 17,000 students in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board will have to find their own way to school Monday after a strike vote passed Sunday.

Unionized workers with the board voted Sunday about going on strike Monday.

Earlier Sunday, Debbie Buott-Matheson, spokeswoman for the board, said 17,000 of its 20,000 students rely on the school bus. “Unfortunately it becomes the responsibility of parents and guardians to get them to school,” she said. “This is by no means a small matter for us.”  

CUPE Local 3890 President Ron Davis said close to 500 bus drivers, custodians and tradespeople working for the northern Nova Scotia board voted on the board’s latest offer between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“We have had a number of our members ask us to present this offer to them and that will take place at a special meeting this Sunday at three locations,” he said. “We are a democratic union and believe that the members of our local must have the final say.”

The meetings were be held at:

  • Northumberland Regional High School in Alma at 10 a.m.
  • Central Colchester Junior High School in Onslow at 1 p.m.
  • E. B. Chandler Junior High School in Amherst at 4 p.m.

The main disagreement in negotiations is over contracting out work.

The school board has already said there will be no bus service Monday. High school students start exams Monday and the board said the exams will go ahead.  

Davis said nobody is eager to strike.

“No one wants to lose their pay cheque. We have a lot of bus drivers who get paid for four hours a day, five hours a day," he said.

"Nobody working for the board is getting rich, so yes it's scary today going to take a vote knowing tomorrow you're going to be on strike and you're not going to have a pay cheque coming in."

The school board said non-striking staff will keep the schools clean, but the buses will be idle. 

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