SAANICH, B.C. - Support staff in British Columbia's Saanich school district have served 72-hour strike notice.

The strike would involve about 500 workers in the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 441 who are education assistants, youth and family counsellors, or provide technical support, transportation, maintenance and other services.

A union statement says the notice was served after two unsuccessful mediation sessions earlier this month.

"The Board of Education has received strike notice from CUPE Local 441, the union representing support staff employees, that there will be a full withdrawal of services effective 5:45am on Monday, October 28, 2019", said board vice-chair Elsie McMurphy in a news release.

"This means all classes will be cancelled and buses will not be running," adds the news release.

Local president Dean Coates says they're disappointed a deal couldn't be reached and their goal has always been to come to agreement without disrupting students and families in Saanich.

Coates says the sticking point is that their members have received substantially lower wages for decades compared with their counterparts in neighbouring southern Vancouver Island districts.

"The main issue with CUPE relates to wage disparity with our neighbouring districts, and it’s a priority for both of us," said McMurphy.

"We believe we’ve put a fair proposal on the table, one which distributes the maximum funding available in a manner which reduces the greatest differences between us and our neighbours." 

The union says its members will start job action on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2019.