Strike woes only the beginning of tough road ahead for students

Strike woes only the beginning of tough road ahead for students

As the strike enters its fifth week, Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, has directed all of Ontario's 24 colleges to take the money they save saved as a result of the walkout and place it into a fund to help students who have been affected financially.

OPSEU President Warren "Smokey" Thomas says since the province is trying to treat students fairly, the colleges should make more of an effort to treat faculty fairly.

Eckenswiler says she spoke with Georgian College Owen Sound campus Dean Fred Varkaris on Monday and he had no issues with the students' planned protest.

The student movement wants the strike suspended immediately and classes to resume November 19, and suggests binding arbitration to settle unresolved issues between the two sides locked in a labour dispute.

But getting back to class doesn't necessarily mean getting back on track.

"For the students to finish their academic semesters on time, or as close to on time as we can get, it's those weeks that have to be compromised", he said. "It's not fair to them".

"I will work with students and colleges starting immediately to develop the parameters of the fund", says Matthews. "The union has refused to accept the colleges' solution".

The council then asked Ontario's Labour Relations Board to schedule a vote on its offer, which is said to tackle most demands except for language surrounding academic freedom.

The colleges have said the latest offer includes a 7.75 per cent raise over four years, improved benefits, and measures to address concerns regarding part-time faculty.

"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".

"From the union's perspective, they talk about academic control and they've really determined that it's got to be either (faculty) or (management)". "We know that faculty are looking for straightforward information that tells them exactly what is in the offer and what happens if the offer is accepted or if it is rejected".

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