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Parents divided on justification for teachers strike

Eric Jamieson arrives MOnday with his three sons at the Shaughnessy Point Grey Out of School Care Society located at Quilchena Elementary school in Vancouver.

Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail/rafal gerszak The Globe and Mail

As they dropped their children off at daycare on Day 1 of the strike by B.C. teachers, some parents expressed their sympathy for the plight of educators, while others shook their heads at the union's demand for a 15-per-cent wage hike.

Where the parents united, however, was in their hope that the strike would soon come to an end.

"It's frustrating. The two groups are, at face value, very childish and don't seem to be able to sort this out. I think it's a real education for the kids on how groups can't get along," Casey Crawford said, after walking his 10- and 12-year-old sons inside SPG Child Care on Vancouver's west side.

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"I just hope it resolves soon."

The strike began Monday, as thousands of B.C. teachers traded in their red pens and chalk for picket signs. The teachers are also expected to be off the job Tuesday and Wednesday. The B.C. Teachers' Federation has vowed to resist government legislation that would order an end to the strike, but hasn't provided details. It's unclear when the strike will end, or how long the patience expressed by parents so far will last.

Inside SPG, the children took advantage of the day off by playing boisterously. A trip to the swimming pool was also planned.

Outside the daycare, which is located in the activity room of Quilchena Elementary, parents stopped to chat with reporters and express their opinion on the dispute.

Eva Lewis said it's unfortunate the teachers are on strike, but her sympathy lies with them.

"I certainly support the teachers in taking this kind of stand," she said, after dropping off her two children, who are in Grades 2 and 3.

Ms. Lewis said her children will miss being in class with their friends. There's also the financial cost – she said it will cost $35 a day for each child to have her children in daycare during the strike.

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But she said that so far, the strike isn't much of an inconvenience for her family. The children are simply in daycare instead of in their classrooms.

Mr. Crawford said while he supports government and teachers having a discussion about class makeup and assistance levels for special-needs children, the union's wage demands are out of line.

Norman Kwok, who walked with his six-year-old son to the daycare, echoed those sentiments. He, too, expressed hope the job action wouldn't go on much longer.

"I'd like it to be over, really. I think both sides are being pretty stubborn. It's pretty extreme on both sides."

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