CUPE warns of possible strike in Kootenay Lake schools (UPDATED)November 27, 2013
A strike looms in Kootenay Lake school district because of the board’s decision that it can’t scrape together money to cover a provincially negotiated wage hike for support staff.
Over the weekend, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) reaffirmed their commitment to job action if necessary, although a union spokeswoman praised the board for defying a ministry directive to find savings within its budget to cover the 3.5 per cent pay increase over two years.
“I am proud of the trustees of the Kootenay Lake school board for rejecting the presented savings plan because they understand it would affect core services for students,” local president Michelle Bennett said in a release. Nevertheless, “our first priority is a fair collective agreement,” she added.
“After a settlement is achieved, we hope to work with the board, parents, teachers and the community in a sustained campaign to pressure the B.C. government to adequately support B.C. students.”
Kootenay Lake was the only board that refused to submit a savings plan to government by the Oct. 15 deadline, although others also complained about having to find new money mid-year. (The requirement for public sector employers to find savings to pay for modest salary increases is part of the government’s cooperative gains mandate.)
School districts have until Dec. 20 to ratify collective agreements with support staff under the provincial framework agreement. CUPE says 19 locals have yet to finalize a settlement.
UPDATE: CUPE is also warning of a strike at three Okanagan school districts in a dispute over benefits. Read about that here.