Lindsey Firestone with her son Ocean and daughter Lily on the way to Deep Cove Elementary School in North Saanich Monday morning. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Saanich School District parents welcome end of strike

Various sides of support worker strike acknowledge remaining tensions

On the first day back from a strike that lasted three weeks, everything around Deep Cove Elementary school in North Saanich appeared the way it did more than three weeks ago.

Students stepped from yellow buses onto wet pavement and crossing guards wearily eyed the column of cars snaking its way along West Saanich Road. But Monday, the first day of school after support workers represented by CUPE 441 ratified a new labour agreement with School District 63, was not like every other day.

RELATED: SD63 strike officially ends with union’s vote to accept agreement

It was the first day after a divisive local labour strike that interrupted the education of 7,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 across multiple communities in Greater Victoria for weeks, made provincial headlines and tested the patience and bank accounts of many groups, including parents, whose reactions to the end of the strike varied.

“I’m really happy,” said Lindsey Firestone. “It was a long time and academically, it is nice to be back.” As the mother of three was balancing a cup of coffee and getting two of her children across West Saanich Road, she recalled the moment, when she heard of the news that the two sides had reached an agreement Saturday.

“I was at Thrifty Foods, I got a text, and I nearly shrieked and jumped up for joy,” she said. She supported the striking support workers and their demands for wage parity. “Everybody wants to see that happen,” she said. “But we also want the kids back in school.”

Sarah Ruddick said the strike did not impact her as much as others. “I’m on maternity leave, so I was able to keep my children at home. But I really feel for those families who had to deal with this strike, and pay out of their pockets to put their kids into care.”

And if Firestone’s combination of euphoria and relief marked one side of the spectrum, Ruddick also issued a warning. If the deal does not end up benefitting support workers after all the struggles, she would consider not voting for the current government in the next election.

School officials, for their part, tried to strike all the right notes.

“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,” said Dave Eberwein, the district’s superintendent, in a message posted on the district website.

RELATED: Saanich Peninsula parents accuse district of leveraging deadline

The note acknowledged that the strike was “extremely frustrating and disruptive time for everyone,” including students and families. “We have a long established history of placing high value on the importance of people and relationships in our district, and understand that this disruption to the learning environment has created extra tension.”

Those tensions will likely persist for some time at the highest political level, as a press release from Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich-North suggests. While he welcomed the settlement, the strike raised questions about whether the provincial government is prioritizing education.

“British Columbians are proud of their teachers and schools, and we must continue to invest in their future success,” he said. “The people who are responsible for making our educational systems run — teachers, education assistants, technical support staff, library technicians, family counsellors, custodial and maintenance staff — all require support from the provincial government.”

The provincial government, for its part, has maintained throughout the strike that it values education and educators, while respecting local bargaining in refusing to intervene in the local dispute, a demand of local union leaders, parents and others.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

New exhibit at Point Ellice House examines history of waste, water and privilege

Night soil scavengers in the 19th century would collect human waste and dump it around the city

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Victoria man collects 28 bags of trash along two-kilometre stretch of highway

20-year-old spent 12 hours collecting garbage near Thetis Lake

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help finding missing 19-year-old

Haley Murphy has not been seen since Tuesday, June 30, say police

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read