British Columbia

Saanich school workers strike stretches into week 2

There will be no school again for more than 7,000 students in Saanich on Vancouver Island on Monday as support workers. The school district says both sides remain in negotiations.

Employer and union representing support workers are negotiating, but no agreement reached

School workers in Saanich began job action on Monday Oct. 28, 2019. (CHEK News)

More than 7,000 students in Saanich on Vancouver Island will be off school again on Monday as a strike involving school support workers enters its second week.

Educational assistants, custodians, bus drivers and other support staff represented by CUPE Local 441 started picketing at Saanich School District schools last Monday.

Teachers refused to cross the pickets and so classes have been out ever since.

The main issue is wage parity. Support staff are paid less in the Saanich School District than they are in neighbouring districts such as Greater Victoria and Sooke. 

Parents like Ashley Martin say so far they are supportive of the striking workers and want them to get the compensation they are seeking.

"We were all talking as parents about ways we can help," she said from her home on Sunday. "Our intention is to support CUPE in getting a fair wage and getting our children, teachers and support staff back in school."

Saanich student Cayden Moeller says he's worried about being behind in his school work once class resumes. (CHEK News)

Grade 7 student Cayden Moeller says he is worried about what will happen to his school year if he is out of class for much longer.

"It feels like we are going to be bombarded with work when we get back, and it's going to be stressful," he said.

The school district says it resumed negotiations with the union on Friday and that they carried into the weekend.

The two sides have yet to reach an agreement.

Elsie McMurphy the vice-chair of the board of education said she is aware of the impact the job action is having on families, students and staff. She said that negotiators are working diligently to get school back open as quickly as possible.

The district says it will immediately post developments on its website.

with files from CHEK News

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