Surrey Teachers’ Association starts food bank for striking teachers

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With the BC Teachers Union and the provincial government still far apart, and no more assistance from the union’s strike fund, some teachers are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

To give teachers some relief, some teachers’ associations have set up food banks.

Surrey Teachers’ Association President Jennifer Wadge says new teachers, single parents and two-teacher families are especially feeling the pinch.

“Even though this is the second day of the full scale strike, teachers in Surrey have already lost three days of pay in the rotating strike as well as the 10 per cent that’s being deducted because of the employer lockout on days that teachers are working.”

Wadge says she’s personally received a big pay cut as a result of the job action.

“Teachers already have seen a significant reduction in their mid-month pay. I know for myself, my mid-month pay was about half of what it normally is.”

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She says donations to the food bank are coming from union members and other unions who have donated in the past.

“We already know we have a lot of support from parents, and the public, so they are welcome to donate as well,” says Wadge.

The association has already been giving out $75 grocery store gift cards to members in need over the past two weeks.

The cards are paid for by the teachers’ association employees. Staff are having their pay deducted in solidarity with teachers, and using the saved wages to fund the gift card program.

During the two-week teachers strike in 2005, the association also ran a food bank out of its Surrey office.

It’s unclear when students will be back in class but the province says it’s reaching out to the BC Teachers Federation.

The BCTF says it will update its members today on meetings with provincial negotiators and both sides say they are ready to talk.

B.C’s education minister is calling on the union to release a fully-costed proposal on the table, something he says has not been done yet.

WATCH: BC teachers are bracing for a long walk on the picket line even as their strike fund runs out. Randene Neill reports.