Negotiations have resumed in the Saanich school support workers’ strike but the picket line is still up.
As eighteen schools in the Saanich School District remain closed for the fifth day, the Saanich School District’s board of education announced negotiations have restarted.
“We are very pleased that we have found agreement with CUPE to recommence bargaining, within the provincial mandate which determines our contract parameters,” Elsie McMurphy, the board vice-
chair, said in a statement. “We remain hopeful that we will be able to conclude an agreement on our common concerns of wage parity, recruitment and retention.”
“The board has tabled an offer which distributes the maximum funding available in a manner which reduces the greatest differences between us and our neighbours.”
The strike began Monday after 500 unionized support workers rejected the district’s final officer at the time.
The biggest issue for support staff is wage parity: some workers in the district make several dollars less, per hour, than their counterparts in neighbouring school districts such as Victoria and Sooke.
Meanwhile, the Saanich district had said it can only shrink the gap by so much because it is bound to bargain within a provincial framework, which only allows for a two per cent wage increase per year.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 441 president Dean Coates said staff is going to be working around the clock to try to sort out a deal all weekend.
Coates said statements from the Ministry of Education Rob Fleming suggest that the current chronic labour issues in the Saanich District actually allows for more funding to be allocated to reach wage parity for support workers.
The bargaining has still not come to a conclusion and classes remain cancelled. Parents are asked to keep checking the district’s website for more information.
With files from CBC