Classes have been cancelled at all eighteen schools in the Saanich School District as support workers take strike action.
CUPE Local 441 began a full withdrawal of services at 5:45 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2019.
According to the Saanich School District, the Saanich Teachers’ Association has also indicated that they will be instructing their members to not cross any picket lines.
The district said parents/guardians have been asked to make alternate arrangements for childcare. Day camps have been listed on the district’s website.
“We apologize for the considerable inconvenience that this strike creates for our community. We continue to request that CUPE meet with us to carry on negotiations within the agreed upon provincial parameters,” the district wrote in a statement.
Dean Coates, president of CUPE Local 441, said this weekend that the strike is aimed at keeping staff in the Saanich School District by paying them an equitable wage comparable to other districts in the area.
“Parents need to know that we do not take strike action lightly,” Coates said. “Our low wages are affecting their children’s education in a negative way. We have a huge retention problem.”
Coates cited staff retention issues in educational assistant, bus driver, and information technology positions as the key reason the Union is seeking higher wages.
“We’re looking for a regional wage adjustment,” Coates said.
“It just brings us up to a median wage. We’re not asking for the highest wage.”