The union representing 500 support workers remain off the job in the Saanich School District.
CUPE members started picketing yesterday morning at seven a.m. resulting in the closure of 18 sites in the district and keeping more than 7,500 students home.
CUPE 441 President Dean Coates told CHEK News the issue is wage parity for support workers, including education assistants, with Victoria and Sooke. “It’s been an issue for 40 years that we’ve gotten much lower wages to do virtually the same job and it’s become a crisis situation in this district for all of our job categories, but especially our education assistants,” Coates said. “Our members are prepared to walk until we reach a fair deal.”
On the other side, District Superintendent Dave Eberwein said in an interview with CHEK that he understands the frustrations of everyone, especially parents, but is limited to the current offer of 6 per cent over three years. He does feel that the two sides will find a solution and said, “I’m confident that we can reach an agreement in the saanich school district, and I hope if mediation is something that will be valuable that return both parties returns with the use of the mediator.”
There is no update on how long the strike is expected to last.
For parents hoping to access a day camp during the strike, the Panorama Recreation Centre’s childcare programs are full except for a few spaces Friday and the Saanich Parks and Recreation programs are full, but there is a waitlist.