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

BC Ferries vessel Skeena Queen pulls into the dock at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. (Black Press File Photo).
BC Ferries faces calls for improved reliability on Swartz Bay-Fulford Harbour route

Recent mechanical breakdown resulted in sailing cancellations

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

Sooke’s Paul Larouche gold snipes along Sooke River, a process in which he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Hitting the jackpot: Sooke man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

Retiring local politicians Carole James and Andrew Weaver will receive annual payouts estimated at $87,000 and $34,000, respectively, under the pension plan for outgoing MLAs in B.C., according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. (Black Press Media file photos)
Taxpayer watchdog howling over outgoing MLAs’ pension payouts

Carole James, Andrew Weaver among Island MLAs whose pensions are calculated by taxpayers federation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

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

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Court approves money for B.C. foster children alleging harm from Kelowna social worker

The maximum combined total award for basic payments and elevated damages for an individual is $250,000

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

Most Read