Students relieved faculty strike averted in London
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.”