No end in sight for Saanich school strike as no talks scheduled

WatchHeading into the Remembrance Day long weekend, and there are no talks scheduled between the Saanich school district and striking support workers. The pressure is on to get a deal that will restore classes for almost 8,000 students. Mary Griffin reports.

Saanich school support workers were once again walking the picket line on Friday as the strike reached its tenth day.

They had company on Friday due a parents’ rally. Jessica Norman, one of the organizers, said many parents came with their children to support the workers.

“We’re here because we believe that wage parity is important. And that support workers in this district shouldn’t be getting paid any less than anywhere else,” Norman said.

Grade 12 Stelly’s Secondary School students are offering their support for the strikers as well, including Devon Moeller.

“I think it’s really unfair that they get paid less than the other districts combined. It doesn’t make sense to me,” Moeller said.

“They deserve to make a living wage,” Hayley Pfeifle said.

“It’s really stressful. because this is our grade 12 year, and we’ve got a lot of things riding on this year, right?” Aidan Germain said.

The union, which represents 500 support workers, rejected an offer from the Saanich school district earlier this week. The two sides last met on Tuesday night, but with no talks on the horizon, the pressure is mounting. The president of CUPE Local 441, Dean Coates, is calling on the province to intervene.

“We need the province to step in with a very modest increase of between one and three million dollars to end this strike. And to be able to meet the needs of our students, and meet the needs of our families,” Coates said.

On Thursday in Courtenay, Premier Horgan offered his opinion.

“I’m hopeful that the offer that’s been made by the employer in District 63 will be reviewed by the members and accepted.”

And Tara Houle’s daughter is tired of waiting and is transferring out of Saanich to a Victoria school.

“We are supporting her decision to do so.  So today she is going, attending class at a different school in the Victoria district. And she’ll be in classes, hopefully, by next week,” Houle said.

This afternoon, the union targeted the education minister’s constituency office with an information picket on Hillside Avenue.  Coates said they were hoping to talk with Rob Fleming but were not optimistic the minister was available.

“We need the minister and his government to step up and provide the necessary funding to give inclusive education here in Saanich,” Coates said.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!