PEI student caught in limbo of Ontario colleges strike


Students affected by the Ontario college strike plan to stage a rally this week to urge an end to the labour dispute.

During the College Employer Council webcast, Del Missier assured teachers that the contract offer which OPSEU unanimously recommended against supporting "contains all of the items that we and the union team agreed upon". Voting remains open until 10 a.m. Thursday.

"The union is telling you that this is a different offer than what we worked on with the union - one with concessions, one that will harm faculty".

In a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne and other members of the Ontario legislature, the Sheridan Student Union (SSU), which represents students at campuses in Brampton and Mississauga, expressed "deep disappointment and frustration" at the state of negotiations between the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which represents the 12,000 striking college workers, and the College Employer Council (CEC) that has stretched almost four week.

"If this strike goes for long I'm going to lose a lot of money, a lot of time". "The union has refused to accept the colleges' solution".

According to the colleges, the offer includes a 7.75 per cent salary increase over a four-year period and improved benefits, such as extended pregnancy and parental leave.

"We shouldn't have had to have this vote at all right now. We've been in these situations and we've still been able to go on and graduate (students.) I'm confident that this is do-able at this point". Even if the instructors overrule their leadership, students couldn't be back in class before November 21.

Kennedy called for more intervention on the part of the government.

"My and my peers' concern has always been with the students", Kennedy said.

The province has not said whether back-to-work legislation will be considered if the offer is rejected by faculty.

"My guess is that this is going to be a strong "No" vote", said Liz Matheson, president of OPSEU Local 352 at Fleming.

We'll keep you posted as more details emerge. At a minimum, the schedule for the entire year will need to be restructured to give students the required in-class time for their credits.

Katara called the strike a loss for domestic and worldwide students, specifically citing conversations he's had with friends who are single parents.

"On behalf of Sault College Students Union, we want to reiterate that we are remaining neutral regarding the bargaining parties".

Kennedy said the semester can still be salvaged. "We want to see a quick end to this strike and to get back into the classroom with them as soon as possible". "They want us to do what's best for the students and what's best for the future of education in Ontario". "They have to start talking to us about the issues that really matter".

Meanwhile, Smith has a direct message from faculty to students. The holiday break would last for two weeks from December 23 to Jan.7 and the fall semester would conclude the week of Jan.8 to 12, 2018. Letting the strike continue, though, also has political risks for the Liberals, and no government's patience is infinite.

"We advise students to refrain from booking travel during this period until we know more", the school advised.