Teachers struggling to make ends meet, look for second jobs

The ongoing labour dispute has many B.C. teachers facing tough financial times.

Many have been applying for lines of credit or relying on union hardship funds for assistance. Others have found second jobs to make ends meet.

Graham Hendry is a teacher on call, but maintains a second job working in the office of a bakery.

He says having two part-time jobs is “a balancing act” during a regular school year, but he feels very fortunate to have a fall-back plan during the strike.

Hendry says he donated his strike pay back to those teachers in greater need.

He says it is panic time for many of his colleagues.

Melissa Moore is also in panic mode.

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She has been a part-time teacher for six years, and was supposed to be full-time starting in September.

Her last pay cheque came in mid-June.

“Even before then, with the 10 per cent off and the rotating strikes, it was not a full pay cheque,” says Moore.

Melissa was also supposed to teach summer school, which was another big hit on her bottom line.

“It was important to pay my mortgage,” she says.

“It’s been major. I think most teachers have planned for two weeks in the summer. Not a lot of teachers have thought that government would have waited this long to start the mediation.”

Next week, she’ll start looking for work as a server.

“I know finding second employment is going to be tricky for a lot of teachers,” says Melissa.

She says her colleagues have been looking for jobs in landscaping, serving and whatever else they can find.

While Melissa is nervous because she has never been in this financial position before, she is resolute that they are striking for the right reasons.

“We need better support in our classrooms. We need a fair deal,” she says.

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A temporary work agency told Global News no teachers called last week.

This week, they got several inquiries from teachers about day-to-day work.

To help fill in the gaps, the Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association is also offering striking teachers loans or grocery gift cards.

To date, they’ve handed out about $20,000, a resource more teachers will need as the days or weeks go on.

With files from Leigh Kjekstad