Ontario college strike ends as province passes back-to-work legislation

Nov 20 2017, 4:37 am

Ontario has passed a back-to-work legislation on Sunday, officially ending the college faculty strike.

The provincial government said that the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act, 2017 governs the labour dispute between the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) college academic unit. From now, all outstanding issues are to be referred to binding mediation-arbitration, and both parties will have five days to agree on a mediator-arbitrator, or one will be appointed by the Minister of Labour.

Colleges will be opening this week, and students are set to resume classes on Tuesday, November 21.

“Our government respects and believes in the collective bargaining process. It is only in special circumstances that government intervention should occur,” said Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour. “Through all of this, our focus has been on students and their learning. We want to see students back in the classroom as quickly as possible so that they can continue their education while an agreement is reached.”

Ontario colleges have reworked their semester dates in order to accommodate for time lost during the strike, which began on October 16. Centennial College announced that it’s fall semester end date will extend by three weeks. Similarly, George Brown has its fall semester extended into January.

But not everyone is happy about the news.

Several online petitions have been started by students, who want a “penalty free semester restart.”

“I believe that students should have the option to restart the 2017 fall semester without academic or financial penalty,” reads a petition, which has almost 2500 signatures by students. “I do not want to cram. I will get more out of the course by being taught at the regular pace that was originally scheduled. Nor do I want to have yet another break in my semester. Personally, I will take more out of this course by redoing the semester.”

The strike by approximately 12,225 faculty (composed of professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians) affected all 24 colleges in Ontario.

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