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

MLA Adam Olsen said Tuesday morning it falls to the provincial government to help resolve this issue

Union representatives and at least one MLA say the provincial government should step in to resolve the issue as students face day three out of class in the Saanich School District.

Monday morning, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Local 441) at in School District 63 (SD63) stopped work in a bid to achieve pay parity with other local school districts.

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

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 less staff and lower wages in SD63.

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 does not 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.

This means even though there will be two per cent wage increases for provincial school support staff each year for the next three years including 2019, teachers and 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

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

Just Posted

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read