Teachers rallied outside South Saanich MLA Lana Popham’s constituency office on Glanford Avenue on Thursday Nov. 14 in support of striking school support staff members of CUPE Local 441. They were greeted by honks of support from passing traffic along Glanford Ave. One man even rolled down his truck window, extended a raised thumb and shouted: “keep fighting the good fight.”
Support staff from School District 63 (SD63) have been on strike for nearly three weeks now in hopes of achieving pay parity with local districts such as Sooke and Victoria. They say it impacts educational quality in the District. Parents/guardians, students and teachers are now calling on provincial politicians to step in so they can get kids back into classrooms.
Saanich Teacher’s Association President Don Peterson said Saanich school teachers support the CUPE job action. “We really want to get back to work as soon as we can,” Peterson said, “we feel the only way to do that is to put pressure on Government to make that happen, they need to be stepping in.”
Peterson said the Association had yet to hear any comment from local MLA Lana Popham on the strike so far. “This is happening in her riding, it’s important that she’s speaking out on behalf of the workers in her riding,” Peterson said.
Popham released a statement shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. In the statement, Popham said she has spoken to many of her constituents regarding concerns about the ongoing job action in Saanich.
“Last week, and again yesterday, I had a phone meeting with James Taylor, VP of the Confederation of Parents Advisory Councils of Saanich and the Minister of Education,” Popham’s statement reads, “I have also had the chance to speak directly with members of CUPE and with teachers.”
She also stated she continues to be hopeful both parties come together to find a solution, adding she encourages “all sides to return to the bargaining table – because that’s where a solution will be found”.
The statement also said the B.C. provincial government has the “most generous” bargaining mandate in over a decade that allows employers and employees “make real improvements to wages and to working conditions”, adding 53 of 69 K-12 bargaining locals have ratified agreements in B.C.
To stay abreast of the latest developments, check the School District’s website at sd63.bc.ca.