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Bermudians to lose jobs at Berkeley - union

The Berkeley Institute plans to cut more than half its support staff before the start of the next school year, the Bermuda Public Services Union claimed today.

The school’s 15 custodial, maintenance, secretarial and library staff were told last week that eight positions would be made redundant in one week, according to BPSU vice president Jason Hayward, who said the Union would not accept the cuts.

All the staff members are Bermudian.

The Ministry of Education’s funding was cut by ten percent in February’s Budget, leading to cuts throughout the Island’s public school system.

The positions are administrative rather than teaching, and no specific jobs were named to be cut. Support positions range from janitors to receptionists and secretaries.

Mr Hayward said the announcement came during a routine meeting last Thursday, between the union and the school’s Board of Governors.

“The Board said they wanted to make these cuts prior to the school year starting,” Mr Hayward said, “but then the school year may never start.”

Saying the union felt “sideswiped and hoodwinked” by the announcement, Mr Hayward said that under its collective bargaining agreement with the Board, such redundancies required a 90 days’ written notice.

School staff, some of whom had taken their vacations, were said to be upset at the sudden notice.

“People felt betrayed, like they had spent their time getting the Berkeley Institute ready for the school year, only to be made redundant,” Mr Hayward said.

The union was able to ask another week’s grace to negotiate the issue, and hopes to meet with the Board within the coming days.

Asked if he felt a strike could be called for, Mr Hayward said: “We will be directed by our members.”

Board of Governors head Craig Bridgewater said meetings with the union were confidential, and that he was not able to comment on them.

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Published August 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm (Updated August 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm)

Bermudians to lose jobs at Berkeley - union

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