Saanich school support workers vote to ratify contract, end strike
VANCOUVER - Unionized school support workers in the Saanich School District have voted to ratify the tentative agreement reached between the parties on Saturday, formally ending their strike and paving the way for school to resume Monday.
Some 84 per cent of workers in the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 411 voted to accept the latest offer from the district.
CUPE local president Dean Coates said he believes the deal will allow workers to achieve wage parity with nearby districts over the next three years. The fact that Saanich support workers are currently paid less than those in comparable positions in Victoria and Sooke had been the major sticking point in negotiations.
“We could not have reached this agreement without the backing of this community,” Coates said in a statement. “We commit to working with the School District to build a relationship of respect moving forward.”
On Sunday, parents told CTV News Vancouver Island they were supportive of the deal.
"I'm very excited that my kids are back to school," said Ashley Martin, who has children in middle and elementary school in the district. "I think the kids really need to be back in school."
As for what comes next, Saanich schools Supt. Dave Eberwein said the district will start by postponing a professional development day that was planned for Friday.
Eberwein said he wanted to acknowledge the disruption the three-week strike caused for parents, students and staff.
The school district says it will be considering different options for how to make up missed time, including looking a cancelling optional field trips.
Because of contracts, however, winter breaks and the last day of school will not be changed.