Stu­dents re­lieved fac­ulty strike averted in London

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS -

Western Univer­sity stu­dents breathed a col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief Fri­day af­ter the school and its fac­ulty reached a ten­ta­tive labour agree­ment to avoid a strike that was meant to be­gin on that day.

“We are all happy that they man­aged to reach an agree­ment. We are all very ec­static about that,” said Mitch Pratt, pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity Stu­dents’ Coun­cil.

“We have cer­tainly been on the edge of our seats look­ing for strike up­dates . . . (and) there was a large feel­ing of un­cer­tainty on cam­pus be­cause stu­dents didn’t know whether they would be writ­ing their midterms or whether they would have to go classes next week.”

The deal be­tween the univer­sity and the as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing 1,650 fac­ulty mem­bers was reached early Fri­day, fol­low­ing “marathon” ne­go­ti­a­tions Thurs­day that con­tin­ued into the early hours of Fri­day and past a 12:01 a.m. strike dead­line set by the fac­ulty.

“The ten­ta­tive deal means there will be no strike. All ser­vices — in­clud­ing classes, labs, tu­to­ri­als and re­search — con­tinue as nor­mal,” Western Univer­sity an­nounced shortly af­ter 2 a.m.

The fac­ulty as­so­ci­a­tion, UWOFA, will rec­om­mend its mem­bers rat­ify the agree­ment dur­ing a vote ex­pected to take place next week.

Though de­tails of the agree­ment won’t be re­leased un­til rat­i­fied, UWOFA pres­i­dent Dan Bel­liveau said he be­lieves the agree­ment reached is one fac­ulty mem­bers will get be­hind.

“I feel pretty con­fi­dent we achieved the pri­mary goals that we set out to achieve at the be­gin­ning of ne­go­ti­a­tions and I’m con­fi­dent they will feel the same way,” he said.

“We held firm to our be­liefs and com­mit­ments to our stu­dents and our con­tract-fac­ulty staff to en­sure a high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion stan­dard that we de­mand at Western.”

If rat­i­fied by the fac­ulty, Western said its board of gov­er­nors would vote on the agree­ment at its next meet­ing in late Novem­ber.

As the Fri­day strike dead­line ap­proached, Pratt said, many stu­dents feared their stud­ies could be im­pacted.

“Stu­dents were ner­vous about this, es­pe­cially those in their fourth year,” he said. “We do have a lot of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and a lot of out-of-prov­ince stu­dents who had al­ready booked flights home, and they were wor­ried about fi­nal ex­ams po­ten­tially be­ing pushed back . . . so we are all very re­lieved.”

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