Nova Scotia

Cape Breton school board employees to lose jobs as schools close

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says school closures in Cape Breton will be devastating for employees.

Cape Breton-Victoria School Board set to close 17 schools over five years, including 10 in June

St. Joseph's Elementary in Sydney Mines is one of the schools that will close. (www.cbv.ns.ca)

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says school closures in Cape Breton will be devastating for employees.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will close 17 schools over the next five years, including 10 this June.

This will signal job losses for teachers' aids, cleaners, custodians and maintenance workers.

"We have no idea how deep the layoffs are going to be," said Glenn MacPhee, the president of CUPE Local 5050, which represents 900 full-time support workers.

"We are working to find the numbers from the employer when they get them."

MacPhee and national CUPE representative Cathy MacLeod are meeting with members today. 

Members 'apprehensive'

MacLeod does not blame the school board for the situation. 

"The Cape Breton board had to do, what they had to do," she said.

But she accuses the provincial government of creating the environment for the cuts.

"What they have done is to cut the board funding so bad that these boards are just struggling to survive," she said. 

MacPhee says members are very apprehensive and their futures look very uncertain. 

"Some have been working in these schools for their entire working lives," he said.

Until now, CUPE Local 5050 did not have language in its contract with the school board to deal with displacements.

MacLeod says the union has reached a memorandum of agreement with the board to ensure the most senior employees get the remaining jobs when schools are consolidated.

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