More than 50 people gathered outside Hume elementary school Thursday afternoon to rally for CUPE workers of School District 8 who are still awaiting a contract agreement.
“We’ve been down a long, long road with this government,” said CUPE BC K-12 coordinator Bill Pegler. “We know this has involved a very difficult situation for trustees and CUPE workers.”
In September, CUPE signed a Provincial Framework Agreement with the BC government providing a 3.5 per cent wage increase for BC education workers. The Ministry of Education required local school boards to submit a cost savings plan to fund the agreement. School District 8 stands alone as the only board to not submit a plan to pay for the wage adjustment.
“The government has put trustees in a box they didn’t build,” said Pegler.
Present at the rally were other local CUPE members, locked out Fortis workers, Kootenay Lake superintendent Jeff Jones, Nelson board trustee Bill Maslechko, teachers and MLA Michelle Mungall.
The Nelson-Creston representative commended people in the Kootenays for being willing to stand up — in this case against consistent lack of money for public education.
“Liberals have underfunded public education for far too long,” Mungall said.
Pegler said school boards need full funding for settlements and thanked Kootenay Lake trustees for participating in discussions and rallies during this difficult situation.
Last weekend, local CUPE members have voted 100 per cent to take job action should a collective agreement with the school district isn’t achieved.
The board is holding a special meeting on Monday at 6:30 at the Johnstone Road board office to discuss the savings plan.