As the Ontario college strike enters its fifth week an end might be in sight, as a forced-contract vote is set to take place this week.
The vote is being put in place by the College Employer Council and will begin Tuesday morning and will end this Thursday.
The 12,000 faculty affected by the strike will be able to vote online and over the phone on the offer, which the OPSEU is urging faculty to reject.
— OPSEU (@OPSEU) November 13, 2017
The vote was set in place after the College Employer Council indicated that they could not accept the faculty bargaining team’s latest proposal on November 6 and asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to schedule a vote as soon as possible on the Council’s last offer.
The faculty bargaining team is recommending that all faculty members reject the contract offer as it’s “a bad one for faculty and students alike.”
In the meantime, the strike has already taken a significant toll on hundreds of thousand students. “I have heard from them about hardships students are experiencing as a result of this strike. Students have been in the middle of this strike for too long and it’s just not fair,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development in a statement this morning.
Matthews is now requiring Ontario colleges to establish “a dedicated fund with all the savings from the strike” that will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike.
“I will work with students and colleges starting immediately to develop the parameters of the fund. We need to work out the details together and we will do it quickly.”
“I have just spoken with student leadership from the College Student Alliance and have asked them for their advice and for feedback from their membership. I’m looking for the best ideas about how to make sure this reinvestment directly benefits students who have faced hardship,” says Matthews.
The OLRB will tally the votes soon after voting comes to a close on Thursday and will inform both the union and the Council of the results as soon as possible with a formal notice.
This is a challenging time for everyone, particularly for the students when there’s still so much uncertainty. If the deal is accepted, students will return to class within two business days. If the deal is rejected, the bargaining process will continue.