(Photo by Mike Kelly)

After a week of strikes that have kept students at 19 schools out of class, the Saanich school board and support workers’ union are back at the bargaining table.

According to an update from School District 63, the board has tabled an offer that to be negotiated with by CUPE 441, the union that represents support staff, on Friday.

See also: Saanich school support workers issue 72-hour strike notice to school district 63

“We are very aware of the impact of this job action on families, students and staff, and we wanted everyone to know that we are still working diligently to get our schools open as quickly as possible,” said Elsie McMurphy, vice-chair of the school board.

“The Board has tabled an offer which distributes the maximum funding available in a manner which reduces the greatest differences between us and our neighbours.”

CUPE 441 commenced strike action on Monday, October 28th, to demand comparable pay to their counterparts in Victoria and Sooke, who have received higher wages for decades.

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

In hopes of resuming classes for students at all affected schools on Monday, the board has proposed to apply larger wage increases to “positions that have fallen the furthest behind”, specifically education assistants and other clerical, secretarial, and school support positions.

See also: Vice principal of Comox Valley school fired after checking male students’ underwear

“Nevertheless, these proposals will still provide wage increases for all support staff in excess of the 6% over the three-year term of the Agreement, in line with other settlements in school districts and across the other employee groups provincially,” the school board stated.

Picket lines remain active and parents are encouraged to check the school district website regularly for updates.

Here’s a list of the affected schools:

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

Secondary Schools