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School strike averted, classes go ahead as normal Tuesday

CUPE Local 523, which represents education workers in the North-Okanagan Shuswap School District, has issued 72-hour strike notice. If the situation is not resolved, it could result in school closures.  - Observer file photo
CUPE Local 523, which represents education workers in the North-Okanagan Shuswap School District, has issued 72-hour strike notice. If the situation is not resolved, it could result in school closures.
— image credit: Observer file photo

North Okanagan-Shuswap students will be attending classes as usual Tuesday after an agreement was reached Monday evening with the union that represents education workers.

"North Okanagan-Shuswap Board of Education is pleased to advise that our bargaining agent, the Okanagan Labour Relations Council, has recently reached an agreement in principle with representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Local 523," said Bobbi Johnson, Board Chair.

CUPE 523 represents school district support staff such as trades people, certified education assistants, bus drivers, custodians, technicians, clerks, and secretaries.

The district had been under 72 hour strike notice and the union was in a legal position to strike Tuesday but an agreement was successfully reached on Monday, Dec. 2 during a bargaining session in Kelowna.

"I think all sides are pleased we have reached an agreement and can avoid a disruption to students," comments Superintendent Glenn Borthistle.

The school district had issued a notice to parents Monday advising them of the possibility of strike action on Tuesday and advising them to make child care arrangements if need be. A strike action would have disrupted classes as the union representing B.C. Teachers would not have crossed picket lines.

This completes the negotiations as earlier this year a provincially agreed contract framework was agreed to. This current session was for locally-negotiated issues.

CUPE Local 523 said the sticking points  in negotiating revolved around clawbacks to long term disability benefits, although the school district disputed this point.

The details of the settlement have not been disclosed, however, among other elements, CUPE will be receiving a 3.5 per cent raise, including a one per cent raise effective July 1, 2013, followed by two per cent effective February 1, 2014 and .5 per cent increase effective May 1.

 

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