Tentative deal reached in weeks-long Saanich school strike – CTV News

Tentative deal reached in weeks-long Saanich school strike - CTV News
Striking Saanich support staff and school district reach tentative deal
The driving issue of the strike remains a wage disparity between Saanich School District support workers, such as educational assistants, and support workers in other districts.

VICTORIA – A tentative deal has been reached between the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 411 and the Saanich School District after a strike over wages that has lasted weeks.

Teachers, whose respect of the support workers’ picket lines forced the school closures, rallied outside Education Minister Rob Fleming’s constituency office in Victoria Friday urging the government to step in.

Roughly 7,000 students have been locked out of the classroom for more than half a month after a strike notice was handed down on Oct. 25.

The sticking point between the union and the school district was over wage parity. Specifically, support workers in the Saanich school district are paid significantly less than those doing comparable work in nearby Victoria and Sooke.

It’s not clear if the deal is equal or similar to the one published in full by the school district earlier this month, which included a seven to 12.8 per cent wage increase and other measures.

On Saturday, CUPE 441 president Dean Coates told CTV News Vancouver Island that a tentative deal has been reached.

CUPE 441 represents 500 education assistants, technical support staff, library technicians, family counsellors, custodial and maintenance staff and others, who walked off the job on Oct. 28.

In a show of good faith, Coates said they will taking down all picket lines as of Monday and school will be back on.

The differential exists because the union opted for better benefits decades ago, according to the district. Those benefits have since been put in line with all other school districts in B.C.

Saanich School District has posted on its website that school will be open as of Monday for regular instruction.

“We are extremely pleased to have our schools open once again and look forward to re-engaging with our community and providing quality public education.”

A tentative deal has been reached between the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 411 and the Saanich School District after a strike over wages that has lasted weeks.

The Saanich School District says it has reached a tentative agreement with the union that represents more than 500 support staff workers, which means all of its schools will reopen Monday.

As a sign of good faith, the union is taking down all picket lines starting Monday, allowing all 18 schools that had been shut down throughout the strike to reopen.

Support staff have been on strike for about three weeks and unionized teachers have refused to cross picket lines, so about 7,000 students have not been going to class during that time.

Saanich schools will finally reopen on Monday after the district and 500 striking school support workers reached a tentative contract agreement Saturday morning.

"We recognize that this has been an extremely frustrating and disruptive time for everyone, including our students and their families," said school superintendent Dave Eberwein in a written statement.

Striking workers said theyre paid less than their counterparts in neighbouring school districts, a differential that ranged from 30 cents to $4 per hour.

The CUPE Local 441 members — who include educational assistants, custodians, and bus drivers — have been demanding wage parity, claiming their pay is significantly lower than neighbouring school districts like Greater Victoria. 

Coates says the union is meeting with members Sunday and it's recommending that they ratify the agreement.

B.C. Premier John Horgan waded into the dispute shortly afterwards, suggesting the union review and accept the “superior” deal.

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at [email protected]

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