Saanich schools remain empty on Wednesday as workers across SD63 continue to strike for pay parity. (Sophie Heizer/News Staff)

Saanich schools strike: what we know on day three

School support staff continue to strike for pay parity, calls for provincial government to step in

As a strike continues into its third day in Saanich School District 63 (SD63) on Wednesday, Oct. 30, nearly 8,000 students are still not back to class across the 14 schools in the area. Frustrations are running high on all sides of this conflict for parents, provincial MLAs, the school district, support staff, teachers, and students.

Schools closed Monday as local Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Local 441) stopped work to achieve pay parity with other local school districts.

In B.C. Legislature on the morning of Tuesday Oct. 29, MLA for North Saanich and the Islands Adam Olsen used Question Time to ask Provincial Minister of Education Rob Fleming what the pathway to resolving this labour dispute is. Olsen said it falls to the provincial government to provide quality public education and in this case, the quality of education is being affected by staff shortages and lower wages in SD63.

READ MORE: Union, local MLA agree province should step in to resolve Saanich schools job action

The provincial government insists CUPE Local 441 and SD63 negotiate within the terms set out by the Public Framework Agreement. SD63 Superintendent Dave Eberwein said this means his hands are effectively tied and the school district has done everything they can, perhaps even a little more, under the framework to settle with the union.

CUPE Local 441 President Dean Coates said this agreement doesn’t allow the needs of SD63 employees to be met because they started off on uneven footing more than 40 years ago. CUPE Local 441 settled for a then-acceptable wage increase to avoid members losing their jobs while the rest of the school districts in the province went on strike. Not participating in this collective action meant they missed out on higher wage increases, and that gap has only widened since.

Even though there will be two per cent wage increases for provincial school support staff each year for the next three years including 2019, support staff employed by SD63 still have lower wages than neighbouring districts. This has developed as a recruitment and retention issue in SD63 as educational assistants, secretaries, and other support staff leave the district for better pay.

READ ALSO: Classes cancelled across Saanich School District

Ultimately, if this pay disparity issue goes unresolved, Coates and Olsen both said this will only compound the problem, leaving remaining staff with more work for lower wages, and a lot of stress. This is passed on to students as burnt out teachers are less effective, and there are fewer staff to help teach and support kids identified with unique needs.

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow @yrlocaljourno

teacher strikeUnion wage deals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Arrest made after hydraulic rescue pump stolen from temporary Saanich fire hall

VicPD K-9 unit called in to help locate suspect, stolen equipment

Architect plans to revitalize Victoria ‘gateways,’ including Wellburns building

Wood-construction apartments planned for Scott, Wellburn’s buildings

Public tips lead to arrest in alleged random assault on Victoria bus

June 19 incident was recorded by onboard camera

Sidney asking tourists to respect health guidelines

Messaging says Sidney is ‘excited to welcome smart, safe, and respectful visits’

CRD explores option to use Oak Bay Lodge for people who are homeless

Motion asks staff to work with BC Housing, Island Health on possibilities

Horgan says B.C. restart making gains as more people come out of their homes

B.C. announced the easing of more restrictions on businesses, recreation and travel last month

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Conservatives say police should be called into investigate WE charity scandal

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest

Amber Alert continues for missing Quebec girls, 6 and 11, and their father

Police issued the alert for Norah Carpentier, 11, and Romy Carpentier, 6, from Levis, Que.

Limit police access to lethal weapons in Indigenous communities: Justice Summit

Grassroots-organized National Indigenous Justice Summit was a free-to-attend two-day videoconference

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Most Read