Province moves to end college faculty strike

19 November, 2017, 02:44 | Author: Kim Reid
  • College instructors start voting on offer

Both Ontario's New Democrats and the governing Liberals conceded that the situation wasn't ideal as the legislature debated a bill on Saturday that would end a five week strike by faculty at the province's colleges. "We are looking at all of our options, but I am hopeful that an agreement to return students to class immediately can be reached by the parties".

"Had we passed this legislation on Thursday or even on Friday, students would have and could have been in the classroom by Monday, but the NDP chose to block that from happening".

NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson said the government has the tools to pass the legislation over the weekend.

On Nov. 16, the Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) voted to reject the College Employer Council's (CEC) Nov. 6 offer to settle ongoing disputes in a landslide 86 per cent vote against the proposed contract.

Some 500,000 students have been out of class since the strike by 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians, began October 15.

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The union that represents 12,000 faculty across Ontario says colleges are relying too heavily on contract employees to save money and wants to see more full-time teachers hired across the system.

"I want students back in classrooms Monday, and I want that achieved through a deal", Horwath said.

"'I'm excited to go back", says James Savage, "because we're only coming here for badminton right now".

"From my perspective, if they do that, the labour movement has to oppose that", said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. We will be sharing those plans when students are back in class.

With an election expected in June, Ms. Horwath said the Premier would need to answer for her government's delay in finding a solution to the strike.

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"The colleges' bargaining team has not received any request from the provincially appointed mediator about bargaining this weekend", he said in a written statement. "They have to focus on students".

While none of this will likely satisfy anxious students, those concerned about the financial impact of the strike might be happy to be reminded that the province is creating something of a "hardship fund" for students adversely affected by the disruption. "But in a joint meeting this afternoon with the Premier and Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews, it became clear that, of the three parties in the room, only two were concerned with saving the semester for hundreds of thousands of students".

Lavoie said she was also anxious about how her course material can be condensed to finish the semester.

Around 20 students held a peaceful protest in the main foyer at Brockville's St. Lawrence College Thursday where, equipped with placards, they urged faculty and the province to negotiate a settlement so they can return to class. "They're understandably anxious about how they will make up the lost time as colleges release back-to-school plans that include extending the semester right up to Christmas".

According to Matthews, the fund will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike. "The school has nothing to say right now".

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