CUPE returns to the bargaining table, but union not optimistic a deal can be reached

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

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing school support workers in B.C., is heading back to the bargaining table today, but the union says they are not optimistic a strike can be avoided at this time.

CUPE says the next few days of talks will be critical to avoid job action. They will be at the bargaining table Monday through Wednesday.

Talks broke off between the two sides last week, and there have been 20 days of talks so far.

Teachers have said if the support workers strike, they will stand on the picket line in solidarity.

CUPE is asking for a two per cent wage increase over the next two years. They say their members’ wages have lagged behind inflation since 2001, and have been without a contract for more than a year.

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The union released a statement last week saying “We don’t have endless patience. Our members have been without a wage adjustment for four years. We are seeking an extremely modest raise with no concessions, but the government won’t even offer that.”

They say the government is proposing to cut paid sick time by two thirds and cut sick day pay by 15 percent for the newest employees.

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association is not releasing any details, saying they prefer to discuss the terms at the bargaining table.

CUPE represents about 27,000 education assistants, clerks, trades workers, bus drivers and other staff. They have said if they do strike, they will give parents as much notice as possible.

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