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Morale low among teachers

CDTA president Naomi Nilsson hopes there
CDTA president Naomi Nilsson hopes there's a glimmer of hope about to emerge in the teachers' dispute with the provincial government.
— image credit: Don Bodger/file

Morale among local teachers, who haven’t been paid since June 15, is expectedly low, said their president, Naomi Nilsson.

Nilsson, president of the Cowichan District Teachers’ Association said teachers are currently picketing three locations: the school board office, Quamichan Middle School and Alexander Elementary.

Despite the low morale, there is a glimmer of hope, with the announcement earlier this week that teachers and their employers are returning to the bargaining table today.

“Because of 10 years of this, I want to say I have rose-coloured glasses on, but I need to be real,” she said. “We have given in a lot (in bargaining demands), we’ve pared down a lot, the government hasn’t given us anything new since June 15.

“It’s definitely the government that’s putting on the brakes, the money is there, they need to come to us before going to the media,” Nilsson said.

The local teachers’ association president said there’s been increasing demand from local teachers for the $1,000 hardship fund, with lots of people asking for gift cards.

The British Columbia Teachers’ Association’s strike fund has been tapped and teachers have only been paid for four of the days they’ve been on strike.

July 31, the provincial government announced if the strike continues into the school year, parents with children under 13 will receive  $40 per day for childcare or tutoring costs.

“I think that $40 per day should stay for education, after all, it was budgeted for education,” the CDTA president said. “One parent said to me, ‘Are you kidding me?’ With the shortage of daycare spots, the wait lists, is having that money even feasible? It was obviously a media ploy.”

The BCTF has called a meeting for Aug. 22, where all local union presidents will meet with the provincial teachers’ executive to determine the next course of action. A few days later, on Aug. 26, local teachers in the Cowichan Valley will meet to discuss their next steps.

The first day of school this fall is Sept. 2.

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