A lengthy contract battle between non-teaching staff and the Saanich school district has now entered mediation.

Roughly 500 employees ranging from bus drivers, clerks, secretaries and carpenters have been unable to agree on a new contract with the south island district. Negotiations have trundled on for roughly five months, but now have entered into mediation .

“While we are disappointed that we have not yet been able to finalize a collective agreement with CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) 441, representing the district’s unionized support staff, we are hopeful that productive discussions can continue with the assistance of a mediator,” said Saanich School board Vice-Chair, Elsie McMurphy. 

The key issue causing the impasse is a wage increase.

According to the Saanich District CUPE, workers had taken a deal which greatly improved their benefits package in the past. But. after watching similar unions for other regions get the same benefits and have higher wages a strike vote was taken.

District 63 says a recently penned provincial agreement makes it difficult to increase wages at the local level. 

The Saanich District tells CTV news it has every intention of solving the issues facing both sides and getting a proper deal in front of the hundreds of workers they rely on.