Ontario College Strike Continues As Faculty Unanimously Votes "No" To Offer

Nicola Lau the president of the Seneca Student Federation with international student Eduard Deych. Students at the college are frustrated that the strike is still ongoing Lau said and worried about their semesters

Various media is reporting that the Ontario government has just tabled a back to work legislation that would, if passed, force striking OPSEU Local 613 members back to work.

If it is blocked again Friday, the government said it intends to sit through the weekend.

The College Employer Council brought its final offer to a vote after they approached the Labour Relations Board of Ontario, who brought forth the offer to the striking OPSEU faculty.

Around 12,000 faculty members at Ontario's 24 public colleges have been on the picket lines since October 16, making the strike the longest in the province's history.

College faculty have been voting online and by telephone on the final offer, which representatives from the College Employer Council said addressed numerous concerns brought forth by members of the striking faculty and the OPSEU. In 1992, colleges received 77 per cent of their funding from the government, according to the Canadian Federation of Students - today, the organization says, it's less than 50 per cent.

"The premier was very instructive and very helpful", Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said after a meeting with Wynne and the advanced education minister.

Ellison said she fully supported her instructors' decision to strike, but can't help but feel that students got the short end of the deal.

St. Lawrence College has officially given its students 48-hours' notice they will be expected back in classes early next week, even if the exact date when classes will resume is still unknown. "I completely sympathize with our students who have been caught in this strike for more than four weeks".

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OPSEU had recommended the colleges' contract proposal be rejected.

"For five weeks, students were left wondering how they could afford to pay for their education".

"The colleges bargaining team has not received any request from the provincially appointed mediator about bargaining this weekend", he said in a written statement.

Matthews also said that the semester can still be salvaged.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath shot back that it would be irresponsible for her party to allow quick passage of the legislation without reading it first.

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. "We need to get them back immediately so that the semester can be saved". He spoke with Matthews on Thursday to express his concern about the strike.

Law firm Charney Lawyers filed a proposed class action against the 24 colleges Tuesday, saying 14 students have come forward to potentially stand as representative plaintiffs.

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