Striking school support workers in Annapolis Valley called back to bargaining table

Kirsten Malone and her daughter Faye were among the dozens of families who participated in a walkout for school support workers in Kingston, N.S., on Tuesday. (Rebecca  Martel/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Kirsten Malone and her daughter Faye were among the dozens of families who participated in a walkout for school support workers in Kingston, N.S., on Tuesday. (Rebecca Martel/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The union representing striking school support workers and the Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education (AVRCE) could be heading back to the bargaining table by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU) announced the conciliation officer for Local 73 invited it and representatives from AVRCE to resume talks this Friday.

School support workers who are part of Local 73 have been on strike since Oct. 24. They are seeking pay equity with other school districts or an improved compensation package.

The union said the invitation to resume talks does not necessarily mean the employer has a new offer, but the union has agreed to go back to the table.

The strike has affected 600 people working as educational assistants, early childhood educators, student support workers, outreach workers, parent navigators, library personnel, child and youth practitioners, Indigenous student advisers, literacy support workers and student supervisors.

Kirsten Malone, a mother of four children including one who is in pre-primary school, took part in a demonstration on Tuesday to support the striking staff in Kingston, N.S.

Rebecca Martel/Radio-Canada
Rebecca Martel/Radio-Canada

"I really think they need more attention, I feel like they are getting ignored and not getting the recognition that they need ... they need more support, they need more voices for them," Malone said.

Karla Jessome said she took part in the walkout because she has friends who are striking. She said her four-year-old daughter is missing pre-primary school. She said it was important to take part in the walkout because it shows staff they have people in their corner.

"We need that support staff back to get those kids back in school," she said, adding she's working two jobs and taking a full-time university course load from home while looking after her daughter.

Allison Baker has a son with autism who is in pre primary. She said the support workers play a key role in helping him succeed.

"He's upset he's missing school, he's not sleeping right, he's not understanding what's going on. I also see it's frustrating for our support workers because they miss the kids, they're missing their Halloween parties, they're missing their extended families. All these kids, they love them so much," Baker said.

Members of NSGEU Local 70, which represents school support workers at the South Shore Regional Centre for Education, have been on strike since Oct. 25. They have not been called back to the table but in a news release, the union said it remains "hopeful" it will be called back too.

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