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

Schools could be out beyond this week

A 45-year-old agreement lies at the root of the strike that closed Saanich schools Monday morning. Schools closed as local Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Local 441) stopped work to achieve pay parity with other local school districts.

Mike Forrester, an educational assistant (EA) at Royal Oak Middle School, and SD63 Superintendent, Dave Eberwein agree there is a historical reason behind the pay disparity. Some 45 years ago, each school district negotiated its own agreements and CUPE didn’t want their members to lose jobs. So, they secured a benefits package and a wage increase they were satisfied with, and went back to work. The rest of the province went on strike, and were able to secure larger increases. Forrester said every contract that has expired and been renegotiated since then has only widened the wage gap between Saanich and other districts.

READ ALSO: Classes cancelled across Saanich School District

All schools and employees are not crossing the picket line and are prepared to support the strike past the end of the week.

Forrester said none of the teachers or support staff were happy to be picketing instead of teaching. “In the past, they were more concerned about the gender wage gap, and I see it as the same thing,” he said. “Most people trying to be an EA here are leaving – as well as secretaries – because people in the two [other] local school districts beside us are making way, way more than we are.”

Forrester said because the district has trouble retaining EAs, it puts a burden on ones who stay. He said they are effectively doing more work for less money.

SD63 superintendent Dave Eberwein said he sympathizes with the employees in the district and they have done as much as they can under the provincial government public sector bargaining mandate. He said all school support staff and employers are required to bargain under this agreement. “I believe it’s the richest offer to support staff under the framework,” he said. “We really have tried our best.”

Forrester said he is aware the school district is tied to the provincial mandate, but that staff in Saanich schools have lived with lower wages for more than 40 years. He said it has been a very long time since CUPE has taken a stand like this and acknowledged it would cause hardship for CUPE Local 441 members.

“But we have to do it now. We have to say ‘let’s get on the same playing field as everyone else’ and then we’d be back at work and kids wouldn’t be short EAs for the classroom, which is the biggest problem,” he said.

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com

Educationteacher strike

Comments are closed

Just Posted

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

Man dies at temporary Duncan tent site for homeless

First Nations man died at The Mound site

Loaded gun, hundreds of rounds ammunition seized in Victoria

Victoria police focus on Project Burnside Gorge Connect

A list of charge rates or Crown referrals from police oversight bodies across Canada

Here are the rates of charges or referrals to the Crown from their most recent annual reports or online data

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

Nanaimo RCMP issues warning about scam phone calls

Callers claiming to be government officials convince victims to buy Bitcoin

B.C. reopening but tourism facing long-term recovery, say Vancouver Island MLAs

B.C. Liberals criticize lack of planning, NDP says consultation and response happening

Minivan crashes into building in downtown Duncan

No word yet on the cause of the crash

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Most Read