Strike continues

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Living Waters support staff remained out on strike for a second week, after further talks failed to resolve the issues.

Union reps and Living Waters negotiators met for the second Tuesday in a row on Oct. 9. But the issues that divide them remain. The support workers (members of the Alberta Union of Public Employees – AUPE) want defined hours of work and pay raises to cover the cost of living.

Living Waters maintains that what it pays is fair, and that it simply can’t afford what is being asked.

The strike affects two schools in Slave Lake, as well as schools in Whitecourt and Edson. Picketers have been outside St. Mary of the Lake and St. Francis of Assisi schools in Slave Lake for at least part of every school day since the strike began on Sept. 28.

In an Oct. 11 press release, AUPE Rod Feland accused Living Waters of “purposefully prolonging this strike.”

On the other hand, the release speaks of “overwhelming” support from the community for the strikers.

“It’s clear the community understands the worth of their school support staff,” Feland said. “This has kept spirits high on the line, every day.”

Living Waters had not put out a response, or any kind of update, by press time.

The Leader did talk to a parent of one of the students who is missing the attention of his teacher assistant due to the strike. He said it’s not fair that the TAs – who work hard and do an important job – “get paid half as much as a teacher.”

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