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Saanich schools to remain closed Monday as talks continue between workers, district

Saanich support workers picket outside of one of the district's 18 schools. .
Saanich support workers picket outside of one of the district's 18 schools. . Global News

Eighteen Saanich schools will remain closed Monday as striking support workers and the school district continue to try and hammer out a deal.

The schools were closed last week after 500 education assistants, technical support staff, library technicians, family counsellors, custodial and maintenance staff walked off the job last Monday.

The two sides returned to the bargaining table Friday, where they have remained throughout the weekend.

READ MORE: Striking Saanich school support workers, employer back at the bargaining table

“Our singular goal continues to be to find a settlement with CUPE 441 as quickly as possible so that our schools can re-open,” the Saanich School District said in a statement Sunday while announcing Monday’s closures.

Striking workers say they’re paid less than their counterparts in neighbouring school districts, a differential that ranges from 30 cents to $4 per hour.

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Saanich schools closed for second straight day
Saanich schools closed for second straight day

The differential exists because the union opted for better benefits decades ago, according to the district. Those benefits have since been put in line with all other school districts in B.C.

But the union says the existing wage difference is causing problems in recruiting and retaining staff.

READ MORE: ‘It’s frustrating’: Saanich school strike enters third day

The district has maintained that it has offered everything it can amid the province’s public sector wage cap of two per cent increase per year.

The teachers’ union has been respecting the CUPE picket line, leaving the parents of the districts’ 7,300 students scrambling to sort out childcare.

Thousands of Saanich students out of class
Thousands of Saanich students out of class