Support staff get new contract

The Burnaby board of education ratified a new contract with more than 400 support staff in a conference call Tuesday night.

But that doesn't mean those workers will be going to work anytime soon.

Paul Simpson, the president of CUPE local 379, said his members will continue to honour picket lines set up by teachers outside Burnaby schools even though they voted 98 per cent in favour of accepting the provincial framework agreement on Sunday. Support staff includes educational assistants, childcare, trades and maintenance workers.

"We will support the teachers until this is over," said Simpson.

That could have implications into the next school year if teachers continue their strike action through the summer months, said Greg Frank, the board's secretary treasurer.

He said maintenance and repair work normally done in summer by CUPE workers won't be completed, nor will audits and other paperwork done by clerical staff. Summer school could also be affected.

"We will need to understand what format the strike will take over the summer," said Frank. "We are seeking clarity, but we have no clarity."

Under terms of the new agreement regular support staff will be paid even if they don't cross teachers' picket lines, said Simpson. But casual and on-call workers will likely lose money.

"There's still hardship," said Simpson. "It's a myth that we're not suffering."

The new five-year contract takes effect July 1. It includes wage increases totalling 5.5 per cent, increased hours for education assistants and improvements to extended health benefits plans.



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