Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Local 441) president Dean Coates confirmed CUPE Local 441 will go ahead with strike action on Monday Oct. 28, 2019, following a 72-hour strike notice issued Wednesday. “We told the employer we were available around the clock this weekend, and we didn’t get a call,” said Coates.
CUPE Local 441 served School District 63 (SD63) with strike notice on Wednesday and upon doing so, called Saanich Parks and Recreation to alert them to the need for extra daytime childcare.
All schools in SD63, in Saanich and on the Peninsula, will be affected by the strike as teachers are expected to honour the picket line, explained Coates. This means there will be hundreds of children needing daytime care while parents are at work.
Saanich Parks and Recreation scrambled to find appropriate staff and space for day camps during the first week of the strike, said Kelli-Ann Armstrong, senior manager of recreation services. On Monday, there will be a camp at the Gordon Head Recreation Centre from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from Tuesday to Friday there will be a camp at the Saanich Commonwealth Place. Registration is required as spaces are limited and only children ages five to eleven can be accommodated.
There will also be an all-ages drop-in swim from 1 to 3 p.m. all week for children needing something to do. Saanich Parks will continue to assess the needs of the community if the strike continues past the end of the week, said Armstrong.
On site daycares at schools will remain open as CUPE Local 441 has a goodwill agreement with the employers, said Coates. Parents will be allowed to cross the picket line to drop off their children and kids can cross to play in the parks. He asks that they simply check in with the picket captains first to indicate the nature of the crossing.
Coates wants people to know that CUPE staff care deeply about their students and take job action seriously.
CUPE Local 441 has not heard from the district about getting back to the bargaining table, but bargaining committee is available for negotiations over the weekend, said Coates. If the sides cannot reach an agreement, schools in SD63 will be closed as of Monday at 5:45 a.m.