School board workers end strike

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TRURO – Striking bus drivers and other affected employees of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board returned to work Tuesday, after just more than one day on the picket line.

Members of CUPE Local 3890 picket outside the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board offices and Cobequid Educational Centre on Lorne Street on Tuesday morning. Striking bus drivers, custodians and tradespeople ended their strike after the province appointed a mediator to help solve contracting out issues. RAISSA TETANISH – TRURO DAILY NEWS

Bus drivers, custodians and inside trades workers with Local 3890 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), took to the streets Monday morning because of contracting out concerns and job security.

The province announced Tuesday morning that Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan, at the request of Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey, had appointed veteran mediator Bruce Outhouse to help with contract negotiations between the school board and the union.

"A mediator will provide support to the parties, and bring fresh perspective to the negotiations," Regan said. "Mr. Outhouse has extensive experience dealing with these types of disputes at both the regional and national levels, and I'm pleased he's able to help the parties."

CUPE national president Betty Jean Sutherland also expressed confidence in Outhouse’s credentials and said she was looking forward to getting back on track with contract talks.

“Its safe to say that he’s one of the best (labour mediators),” she said.

“I feel relieved that we’ve got our members off of picket lines and back to work and that the disruption that it’s caused for parents and kids comes to an end, even if it’s short lived. We’re trying our best,” Sutherland said.

“It’s frustrating that it takes this long to get to where we all need to be and hopeful that this mediation process will bring about a successful conclusion to bargaining for this local.”

Sutherland said she expects it will be no later than the end of March for the mediation process to begin, a step she anticipated would also be short lived.

“On a one issue like this it won’t take more than a day or two, is my guess,” she said.

Board spokeswoman Debbie Buott-Matheson also expressed relief that the strike had been called off.

“I think there was interest on both sides to see this get resolved as quickly as possible and I think that was really the driving force behind it,” she said.

“I can’t express enough how happy we are for our students that this is done. Their lives get to go back to normal now.”

Picket lines were scheduled to be taken down as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, after which some members were to be recalled to work for mid-afternoon and evening shifts and to retrieve buses.

All other employees were scheduled to return to their normal work routines today.

Twitter: @tdnharry

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees

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