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CedarBridge support staff face work cuts

Cost savings: administrative, office, IT and maintenance staff at CedarBridge Academy were among up to 25 people who it was believed will be affected by a reduction in weekly work hours, raising concerns about the impact on salaries and the time available to fulfil workloads

Support staff at CedarBridge Academy fear their hours could be cut by 40 days a year.

Employees said they were told the reductions were needed to prevent job losses and that the cost-saving exercise came after years of “money mismanagement”.

Administrative, office, IT and maintenance staff were among up to 25 people who it was believed will be affected and concerns were raised about the impact on salaries and the time available to fulfil workloads.

The school’s board of governors said “nothing has been finalised” and that it was committed to preserving jobs and the long-term financial security of the school.

It was understood employees were informed about the move in a meeting with Jason Wade, the chairman of the board, and Kenneth Caesar, the principal. One staff member heard that the measure had already come into effect, although the board denied that suggestion.

The employee told The Royal Gazette: “We were called into a meeting and informed that effective April 1, which had already gone, they would be changing our days from working full-time, which is 260 days, to 220, and we’re really losing about six weeks worth of pay.

“And if we don’t accept that they’re going to go to redundancies.

“What they’re saying is that they want us to give up six weeks but some people won’t have summers off to get other employment, they would be getting some Fridays off, for example.

“We were told that money has been mismanaged for about ten years or so — now we have to sacrifice or we’re going to lose staff members.”

The board responded: “Several media queries have sought to determine if employees’ hours had been reduced. This is not true.

“We can confirm that in our meeting with employees on Monday that we announced our commitment to our employees and to finding solutions that would preserve jobs and the long-term financial security of CBA.

“With union negotiations set to begin in May 2019, nothing has been finalised and any decision will be made in collaboration with our union partners and with a shared goal that neither faculty nor students will be negatively impacted.”

It was feared some monthly salaries could shrink by hundreds of dollars and that students could also be affected if staff have less time to carry out their work, such as upgrades to computer systems or deep cleans of school infrastructure.

The staff member added: “The majority of us are not too happy about it, it’s going to affect our livelihoods — what people can take home to their families, and also the services we provide to the children.

“By the middle of the month we’re already scraping for money, so that could be happening by the first week of the month.

“We’re working with our unions and in the process of starting negotiations but it’s a Catch-22 because we don’t want to say ‘we’re not going to accept this proposal’ because then people are going to lose their jobs and we don’t want people to lose their jobs.”

Collin Simmons, the Bermuda Industrial Union’s education officer, said he could not comment because the union was “still involved in negotiations”.

Kevin Grant, the Bermuda Public Services Union’s assistant general secretary and education division chairman, did not respond to requests for information.