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School support workers in Nanaimo vote on tentative deal

B.C. education support workers, including ones in Nanaimo, have a tentative five-year deal in place with the Province of B.C.

The deal still needs to be ratified – a vote takes place June 16 and 17 – and will form a framework for an agreement between Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 606 and Nanaimo school district.

“What it says on the concept of it is, it still needs to be ratified on two different terms,” said Rob Zver, Local 606 president. “It is a tentative agreement ... it has to still be approved by the provincial and the local bodies.”

As proposed, the contract would run from July 1 until June 30, 2019 and see a wage increase of 5.5 per cent during its duration. It is said to fall in line with recent agreements for other public sector employees.

According to a union press release, all increases in the pending deal are “fully-funded by the provincial government,” which will ease the financial burden on the school district’s operating budget. Nanaimo had to deal with a $5.4-million budget deficit for the 2014-15 school year.

“I just hope that they hold up to their end of the agreement piece that says that they would fund it in addition to, so that we don’t see it built into the [school district budget],” Zver said.

There is also language dealing with the ongoing dispute between B.C. teachers and the province. Union members would not be docked pay if they decide not to cross picket lines or due to an expected lockout at the end of the month, read the release.

The union will continue to support teachers, according to Zver.

“I’m hoping that we can come away with an agreement and move away with some, I guess as we would say on the CUPE side, ‘Our labour peace’ and we wish the teachers well and we will support them so they can achieve what they want out of collective bargaining,” he said.

Negotiation dates between the local and school district are yet to be determined.

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