Education workers in B.C. schools could strike in the fall

A Texas school bus driver was fired after she was caught on camera calling an upset child on a “cry baby.". File/Global News

Education workers in B.C. schools say talks have broken off between the Canadian Union of Public Employees, CUPE, and the provincial government, meaning they could go on strike when students return to class this fall.

“They called us back to the table. We were ready, they were not. As a result, there is a danger that classes will be disrupted this fall,” said Colin Pawson, chair of the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council. “Our committee set aside nearly two weeks to bargain, and we came to the table with ideas for cost savings. The only thing missing was a committed bargaining agent on the employer’s side.”

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CUPE represents more than 27,000 education workers in the K-12 system, including education assistants, clerical staff, trades, custodians, and bus drivers.

Their collective agreements expired more than a year ago, and while settlement talks took place in April, talks derailed shortly after.

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“If the government doesn’t show a commitment to bargaining, our members will take full scale job action,” said Pawson. “They’re frustrated that we’ve had three false starts to negotiating, and the clock is ticking.”

CUPE representatives said in a press release that a fully-funded wage increase is the solution to ending the bargaining impasse.

It has been more than four years since workers represented by CUPE have received a wage increase.

CUPE represents more than 27,000 education BC workers in the K-12 system.

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