CUPE 441 president ‘cautiously optimistic’ Saanich school strike could end over weekend

CUPE 441 president 'cautiously optimistic' Saanich school strike could end over weekend
File photo.
CUPE 441 school support workers have been on strike for three weeks.

CUPE Local 441 president Dean Coates said Friday that he is “cautiously optimistic” an agreement could potentially be reached School District 63 over the weekend.

Coates did not give any further information but did say there could be an announcement as early as tomorrow morning.

More than 7,000 students have been out of the classroom since Oct. 28 as about 500 support workers continue to walk the picket lines. Teachers will not cross the lines.

The CUPE members — who include educational assistants, custodians, bus drivers — are demanding wage parity. The union claims the support workers’ pay is significantly lower than neighbouring school districts like Greater Victoria.

However, the Saanich School District has said its offer is the best it can do under the NDP government’s sustainable bargaining mandate that limits annual wage increases to two per cent over a three-year contract. The district had offered wage increases from seven to 12 per cent, but the union said that wasn’t enough.

Talks broke down late last week between the union and the school district. And as the strike continued this week, Saanich School District Superintendent Dave Eberwein sent a letter to paretns and guardians, assuring them their children will be able to progress on to their next grade and meet graduation deadlines. 

On Friday, Mark Hancock, the national president of CUPE, visited local picket lines today and says that Local 441 has the support of CUPE members across the country. “Nobody wants to be here, that’s the bottom line,” said Hancock. “These folks want to be in the schools, offering those services to these kids and making things better for things in the community.”







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