Two New Brunswick universities dealing with faculty strikes
Published Monday, January 27, 2014 12:35PM AST
Last Updated Monday, January 27, 2014 6:55PM AST
Two New Brunswick universities are now dealing with faculty strikes. More than 150 faculty members at Mount Allison University in Sackville hit the picket line Monday morning.
“We had hopes that we would be able to bridge the gap in our positions but that was not possible,” said Loralea Michaelis of the Mount Allison Faculty Union.
Talks between the administration and faculty union failed to produce a resolution before the midnight strike deadline. Wages and workload continue to be the main sticking points in the dispute.
“We worked as hard as we could to try to get to a settlement by the end of that period. We were not successful,” said Karen Grant of Mount Allison administration.
Meanwhile, a lockout and strike at the University of New Brunswick has entered its third week.
The New Brunswick government ordered the two sides back to the table Monday to try to end the strike, which has thrown thousands of students out of class.
Jody Carr, the province's minister of labour and post-secondary education, appointed Brian Keller as a special mediator to try to work out a collective agreement for the administration and faculty association.
Carr said he decided to act because there has been little movement by either side since the faculty walked off the job on Jan. 13.
"Students, parents and many others are frustrated and concerned and feel their education is in jeopardy," Carr told a news conference. "We recognize the increasing urgency of the situation."
He said Keller will meet with the sides on Wednesday and Thursday.
Both parties released statements after Carr’s announcement. The faculty union said Keller was “respected” and “experienced” while the administration welcomed what they called “a fresh opinion” to look at the dispute.
Students are pleased a mediator has been appointed to help the two sides reach an agreement.
“Two days, I mean, we waited two weeks, so I guess we can wait two more days if they’re finally going to talk again,” said UNB student Olivia Hodgson.
There is no indication of what the next step will be if the new talks fail.
“Back-to-work legislation is a very last resort and that’s not for our discussion today,” said Carr.
This is the first time faculty at UNB have gone on strike, while Mount Allison has seen two strikes in the past. A strike in 1992 lasted three weeks while a strike in 1999 lasted 26 days.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore and The Canadian Press