Catholic school support workers hit picket line

Over 900 Catholic school secretaries, librarians and technicians walked off the job Monday morning, demanding better wages and job security.

Union to vote on new deal Tuesday and Wednesday

Support workers march outside the Edmonton Catholic School Board office Monday morning, calling for higher wages and better job security. (Tim Adams)

Over 900 secretaries, librarians and technicians with Edmonton's Catholic schools walked off the job today, many forming a picket line outside the school board's downtown office Monday morning.

Union spokesman Danny Burell says the workers are concerned with wages, job security and full-time positions being reduced to part-time.

"Continually, over the last few years with provincial budget cuts and less money provided for education -  our members seem to be the ones that are affected," Burell said.

"What we're looking at is what we call job erosion."

The school board is currently offering a deal that would see a 4 per cent wage increase for support staff in the first year, with the possibility of another increase in the second.

The union will have to vote on that deal Tuesday and Wednesday.

Until then, school board spokeswoman Lori Nagy says that schools are scrambling to deal with the disruptions expected by the strike.

That includes finding arrangements for 25 disabled students who relied on teachers' assistants.

"The principals have called the parents of severely-disabled students to try to discuss what other options -  is there another caregiver that could come in and if not how does the parent want to handle it?" she said.

The strike is expected to affect 88 schools across the city.