Saanich School District cancels classes Wednesday as strike continues
Classes will be cancelled for a third day in the Saanich School District with no end in sight.
CUPE 441 support workers are marching outside schools and teachers are not crossing the picket line in the strike over wages.
Dean Coates, CUPE 441, said their members are prepared to walk until a fair deal is reached and asked for the education minister to step in.
“We understand how frustrating this is for parents and kids and we want to work successfully with both parties,” said B.C.'s education minister, Rob Fleming.
He added that he wants to find a solution as soon as possible, but didn’t say what could be done.
“We have settled 53 agreements with support staff unions across B.C., so there is stability and certainty for kids in almost every school district around British Columbia,” said Fleming. “We want to make sure that Saanich has the same success other districts have enjoyed.”
Saanich School District superintendent Dave Eberwein said they have maximized all available funds that they have in their offer.
“This is not about district affordability, this is about every public sector being obligated to bargain within this particular financial framework,” said Eberwein.
But CUPE 441 said the offer on the table is not good enough.
Right now, educational assistants (EA's) in the Victoria School District make $26.21 to $28.40 per hour while educational assistants in the Sooke School District make $25.28.
The same position in the Saanich School District makes just $21.27 to $22.41.
“We just feel everyone should be paid the same amount of money for the same job they do,” said Diana Inouye, an EA at Sidney Elementary.
Support staff in Victoria say they stand in solidarity with the Saanich employees and that they would be striking.
“I think it is a disgrace, their wages … they are paid significantly less,” said Winona Waldron of the Greater Victoria Teachers' Association. “It is the right thing to do to pay people a fair wage.”
Eberwein said school will remain close on Wednesday.
Registration will open tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. for School Closure camp at Saanich Commonwealth Place from Nov. 4 to 8 with space for 35 children. Families can register online, in person or over the phone.