Canada: Faculty strike affects 500000 students

Ontario College of Teachers strike

Just a little over a month into their semester more than 10,000 Niagara College students are getting an unexpected break from their studies as their professor's picket at the school's two Niagara campuses.

But the Ontario Public Service Employee Union announced ahead of the deadline it was unable to reach a deal with the College Employer Council, which bargains on behalf of Ontario's colleges. The college remains open, staff and administrators will be at work, and many non-academic services for students continue.

"But it's really hard right now to figure out what it looks like because a return to work scenario or memo which is found to occur at the end of the strike, will to a major extent dictate how we approach that", Madder said.

The union called for the number of full time faculty to match the number of faculty members on contract, as well as improvements in job security and for faculty to have a bigger say in how the colleges are run.

"We've seen over the last decade, and particularly in the last few years a real erosion of the number of full-time faculty in the classroom, and kind of an explosion of contracts, part-time, sessional folks", he said. People are reminded to be careful when driving near the picket line.

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"It's really about equal pay for equal work", he said.

The group says full-time students should receive $30 a day while part-time students should get $20. "So, I'm a little bit miffed, for lack of a better word". "I have a summer job lined up, so I'm anxious I will not be able to go to that".

Management suggests the proposed changes presented in the union offer would add $250 million annually in staffing increases. As the result of the strike all classes at Conestoga's various compasses, including Cambridge are suspended, however Continuing Education (CE) activities will continue.

In a release to the media Monday, the alliance urged both sides to return to the bargaining table saying "both OPSEU and CEC have claimed they are putting students first with their current proposals - students don't want to be put in the middle of negotiations or to be used as pawns".

The final offer would increase salaries by 7.75% over four years, raising new full-time faculty maximum to $115,378, increase a new partial-load hourly maximum of $154.26, improve conversion of contract faculty to full-time positions, and provide more faculty autonomy over personal workloads along with enhanced benefits.

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