(Lochside Elementary Parents' Page/Facebook)

Parents and guardians with kids in the Saanich School District are being urged to find alternate childcare arrangements beginning Monday after the union representing support staff workers issued a 72-hour strike notice.

In a release, CUPE 441 said strike action will begin at 5:45 a.m. on Monday, October 28th.

According to union President Dean Coates, workers in School District 63 are demanding comparable wages to their counterparts in Victoria and Sooke, who have received higher wages for decades.

See also: Saanich School District support staff issue strike notice

“Our local is profoundly disappointed that we were unable to come to an agreement and we are available to meet with the employer any time, 24/7,” said Coates.

“Our goal was always to reach an agreement that addresses members’ needs without disrupting students and families in Saanich.”

After bargaining with the school district on six occasions and two sessions with a mediator in October, an overwhelming majority of CUPE 441 members have voted to take job action.

There are nearly 500 K-12 workers in CUPE 441 who fill a range of roles including Education Assistants, Technical Support staff, Library Techs, Youth and Family Counsellors, Clerical, Custodial, Grounds, Maintenance, Transportation, Trades, and District support staff.

School district responds

“We believe we’ve put a fair proposal on the table, one which distributes the maximum funding available in a manner which reduces the greatest differences between us and our neighbours,” said school Board Vice-Chair Elsie McMurphy, in response.

According to a statement from the school district, the maximum funding available has already been allocated in their proposal, which provides wage increases for support staff in excess of 6% over a three-year term.

Back in August, the union representing support staff in the Saanich School District voted to be able to issue a 72-hour strike notice, which they have now done.

Until the board and union reach a mutual agreement, the following schools will be a strike zone with picket lines:

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

Secondary Schools