From left to right, Educational Assistants Ute Perry, Sylvia Sundby, Christine Gillies, and Maria, Mangiola on the picket line for CUPE Local 441 as talks break off between the school district and the union on Nov. 6, 2019. (Sophie Heizer/News Staff)

Talks break off between CUPE, SD63 as strike heads toward the end of day eight

Picket lines expect to remain Thursday

It’s back to the drawing board again after three days of the latest round of bargaining between CUPE Local 441 and Saanich School District 63. Talks broke off late Tuesday night when the school district and the union failed to reach an agreement that satisfied both sides. Picket lines will remain up Thursday at all schools in the district.

READ MORE: Bargaining resumes in Saanich School District strike, classes still cancelled

President of CUPE 441 Dean Coates said on Wednesday he’s disappointed they couldn’t reach an agreement with the employer. “Our efforts to be creative and move toward the employer’s position were not reciprocated and the employer would not add any additional funding,” Coates said.

The sticking point for the union is pay parity with other local school districts. Support workers in Saanich earn less than their local counterparts.

CUPE 441 members said recruitment and retention of school support staff is difficult because support staff can earn more in neighboring school districts. They say the consequences are passed on to the students in these schools with support staff shortages.

READ MORE: Pay disparity at heart of Saanich schools strike has 45-year-old roots

School District 63 said in a release Wednesday afternoon that it was aware of a closed CUPE 441 meeting scheduled for later in the day. The district expects to be able to provide parents and guardians more information about the outcome of that meeting later in the evening. CUPE 441 members will present the newest deal on the table and receive directions about what actions will be taken for Thursday.

For the latest updates, keep an eye on School District 63’s website at sd63.bc.ca.

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com


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