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Surrey education assistants spotlight additional hours needed in schools

SURREY–Education Assistants (EAs) in Surrey held a Respect Day on March 12 to draw attention to the unpaid work done in schools throughout the district.

As part of a campaign to improve services in the area of special education, EAs were encouraged to work only their scheduled hours on March 12 to highlight the fact that the current allotment of hours does not allow time for any of the extra activities their work requires.

Dee Beattie, second vice-president of CUPE 728 is a key organizer of the Respect Day campaign. “We are committed to doing the work that makes our schools inclusive for special needs kids. But that commitment runs into the reality of “bell-to-bell” scheduling and reduced hours. Education Assistants are an integral part of the education team and we need a 35-hour week to properly serve our kids,” says Beattie.

CUPE research shows that education assistants work an average of 14 unpaid days per year (1.8 hours each week). This includes activities such as modifying programs or consulting with teachers, principals and other professionals that are often done by EAs on breaks and during lunch hours.

The level of support for EA hours varies throughout the school system. But overall CUPE EA’s are subsidizing special education with their unpaid work. EAs in Surrey are part of CUPE Local 728, representing staff in Surrey school district. Respect Day was supported by teachers and other workers in Surrey schools.

Video of Respect Day Launch