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Parents, students join striking school workers in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley

Click to play video: 'Parents joining educational assistants strike in southwestern Nova Scotia'
Parents joining educational assistants strike in southwestern Nova Scotia
WATCH: It’s been a week into the strike by educational assistants and early childhood educators in the Annapolis Valley and the south shore of N.S., keeping many preprimary children and those with disabilities unable to attend school. Some parents pulled their children from class to walk to the picket line, to show their support for the workers who many say are like family. Amber Fryday reports. – Nov 1, 2022

A week-long strike by educational assistants and early childhood educators in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and South Shore has kept pre-primary children and students with disabilities from attending school.

On Tuesday, some parents in Kingston, N.S. took their children to join the picket line and show support for the workers, who many say are like family.

“When your child’s upset, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world when there’s nothing you can do to fix it,” said parent Shannon Landry-Taylor. “So this is me trying to fix it.”

Read more: Hundreds of school staff in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley on strike over wages

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She said her son has made strides in his speech since starting school in September and is now distraught he cannot go to school with his sister.

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Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) local 70 represents South Shore Regional Centre for Education staff and Local 73 represents Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education staff.

Click to play video: 'NSGEU President talks school support staff strike with Global News Morning'
NSGEU President talks school support staff strike with Global News Morning

Both locals went on strike last week, after more than a year of bargaining. Combined, more than 700 members are off the job.

The striking workers include educational assistants, early childhood educators, student support workers and outreach workers.

Read more: N.S. mom worries as school support workers poised to strike in Annapolis Valley

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The union says the sticking point is that staff in the Annapolis Valley and on the province’s South Shore earn less than staff in Halifax doing the same jobs, with starting pay for some positions as low as minimum wage.

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The strike has caused cancellations of pre-primary classes and has also caused children who require educational assistance to miss out on valuable class time.

“We miss our kids and they need us. We need them,” said Emily Thomas, an early childhood educator.

“We do our job because we love it. We do this job because our kids matter and we do this job because we like to make a difference in their lives.”

Click to play video: 'NSGEU President talks school support staff strike with Global News Morning'
NSGEU President talks school support staff strike with Global News Morning

Carla Jessome, the mother of three children, said the strike is affecting the whole community.

“They should be back in the classroom with the people that love and care about them,” she said about the students.

The province’s education minister, Becky Druhan, said she knows the strike is disruptive for families.

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“The region is working individually to ensure the most learning continuity possible during this time,” said Druhan.

The Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education said their goal is to align compensation province-wide. However, the NSGEU said there have been no talks since the strike started.

— With a file from Rebecca Lau 

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