School support workers hold rally in Dartmouth as strike deadline looms – Halifax

School support workers held a rally Saturday afternoon at Ferry Terminal Park in Dartmouth to highlight the union’s ongoing wage talks with the state.

Workers, represented by CUPE’s Federation of Nova Scotia Boards of Education Council, have posted signs with messages such as “School works because we do it” and “I support CUPE”. Dozens of people went out to show their solidarity with the cause by holding up their shirts.

Bryan Landry, an education programs assistant, said union members hoped that both the government and the public would be more aware of the issue.

“This shows the government that we are serious about what we want, not just for us in Halifax, but across the state,” he said.

Dartmouth wasn’t the only place in Nova Scotia where workers and locals gathered to show their support. Similar rallies were held Saturday in nine other communities in the state, including Truro, Yarmouth and Port Hawkesbury.

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“We are all tired,” Landry said.

“We have been fighting each other for so long because so many places are paid differently. The government wants to quarantine everyone — they have this center and that center — but , we are all support workers, we are all working for our students and we are here to recognize that.”

The union represents more than 5,400 staff members comprising bus drivers, teaching assistants, cleaners, ECE and EPA staff, merchants and food service workers. In a release on Friday, CUPE said workers voted for the strike with 97.5% of his vote “if an agreement cannot be reached that guarantees a significant pay rise for union members”.

“CUPE education workers are among the lowest paid workers in the public sector, with the majority making less than $30,000 a year,” the release said.

Early childhood educator Melissa Brown says about 40 different categories of school support staff across the state are not paid fairly.

“There are a lot of people who have two to three additional jobs in addition to their job working with children in public schools,” she said.

NS Education Minister Becky Druhan said Wednesday he was confident there was still a way to reach a negotiated agreement between union members and the state government.

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“We know, historically, that salaries vary in different regions. Equity wasn’t there, but we are really looking for a path to equity and we are committed to it,” she said. Told.

Chris Melanson, president of the region’s CUPE division and chairman of the Nova Scotia Board of Education Union Council, said the purpose of Saturday afternoon’s “information picket” was to speak to the public and ‘Calling the bluff’.

“There are a few government officials and employers in the state who actually think CUPE members don’t want to ‘set the line,'” he said.

Melancon noted the number of members from other sectors who came out to rally and help.

Chris Melanson, president of the CUPE chapter, which represents employees at the Halifax Area Education Center, said he was inspired by Saturday’s attendance.

Vanessa Wright

“Today we have some teachers here who stand by us and support us. because they are,” Melanson said. “Many of our members are single parents, single mothers and are struggling to make ends meet.”

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“They work two or three different jobs and sometimes make scary choices like, ‘Are we going to pay the utility bills this month?’ Will we pay for groceries? ?It’s a struggle for everyone,” he said.

Melanson said it was motivating to see people united like this, showing that workers are united and supported.

According to a release from CUPE, negotiations fell through after NSSBCU applied for arbitration.

If no deal is reached, educators will go on a legal strike on April 21st.

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Landry hopes Saturday’s rally will send a message to the government to return to the negotiating table.

“Now it feels like we’re being told, ‘If you don’t feel like you’re getting paid enough, get a better job.’ And that’s what we want. We want to do what we do.” I want to be well paid for what I do and I love working with children,” he said.

“That’s what we’re going to do this for, to help out as much as we can. We want to be able to do that and make enough money to live.”

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Using files from Vanessa Wright and Megan King

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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