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Saanich students will have to make up for lost time after strike

Last Updated Nov 17, 2019 at 7:22 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

The strike started on Oct. 28 and affected about 7,300 students at 18 schools

Students heading back to class on Nov. 18 will have to catch up on three weeks worth of work

SAANICH (NEWS 1130) — Saanich students heading back to class Monday will have some catching up to do.

A deal with striking support staff was ratified Sunday after a strike that lasted three weeks.

Dean Coates with CUPE 441 says the first order of business for the district will be helping students make up for lost time, especially those set to graduate this year.

“We will make every effort to make sure that the Grade 12 students especially get all their academic supports and tutoring in place,” he explains. “It is of paramount concern and there were motions passed at our meeting to address [that.]”

Staff represented by CUPE 441 include education assistants, library techs, youth and family counsellors, and custodial staff.

Support staff started job action Oct. 28. Their key demand was higher wages, with the union saying workers in their district have been paid less than their counterparts in other places for decades.

Coates says the bargaining process was a struggle, but workers are satisfied that the new deal will bring their pay in line with that of support workers in nearby districts.

“Our wages were no longer livable wages,” he says. “We were able to reach an agreement that meets the needs of our members and meets the needs of our students.”