West­ern, fac­ulty talk as strike dead­line looms

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - HEATHER RIVERS

Could West­ern Univer­sity stu­dents wake up Fri­day morn­ing to find their in­struc­tors on strike?

With a dead­line of 12:01 a.m. Nov. 9 loom­ing for a po­ten­tial strike, West­ern Univer­sity and its fac­ulty were locked in last-minute ne­go­ti­a­tions Wed­nes­day.

“Ne­go­ti­a­tions are con­tin­u­ing to­day,” said He­len Con­nell, as­so­ciate vice-pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pub­lic af­fairs at West­ern Univer­sity. “Both sides are work­ing hard to reach a ten­ta­tive agree­ment and we re­main cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that we can achieve a set­tle­ment.”

West­ern and its roughly 1,650 fac­ulty mem­bers have been hag­gling over the col­lec­tive agree­ment since June.

“We con­tinue to ac­tively ne­go­ti­ate (Wed­nes­day) and (Thurs­day),” said Dan Bel­liveau, head of West­ern Univer­sity’s fac­ulty as­so­ci­a­tion. “(We) re­main com­mit­ted to reach­ing a fair and eq­ui­table agree­ment.”

Ma­jor is­sues in the dis­pute have been pay, as well as job se­cu­rity for con­tract and part-time fac­ulty.

In late Septem­ber the fac­ulty voted 94 per cent in favour of strike ac­tion. The over­whelm­ing vote was de­signed to give the fac­ulty ne­go­tia­tors in­creased lever­age at the bar­gain­ing ta­ble.

In Oc­to­ber, West­ern and its fac­ulty as­so­ci­a­tion spent three days ne­go­ti­at­ing with a me­di­a­tor from the Min­istry of Labour. The re­sult was a no-board re­port stat­ing the govern­ment will not ap­point a con­cil­i­a­tion board to set­tle the mat­ter.

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