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Cape Breton University faculty members walk off the job over wages

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For the first time in more than two decades, there are picket lines in front of Cape Breton University in Sydney, N.S.

Members of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association walked off the job Friday morning, citing wages as the reason for the strike.

Faculty have been offered an eight per cent increase over three years, but are looking for 14 per cent over two years.

“I’m disappointed,” said faculty member Scott Moir. “I think this could have been done a long time ago. I feel sorry for our students who are put in this position, and there are solutions that are within reach.”

Most classes were cancelled at CBU Friday, though some did go ahead with staff represented by a different union.

“It’s actually a hard time for us,” said student Jeril Joseph Philip. “All of my classes are cancelled.”

“I would like to learn and I don’t know how long this will take,” said student Adriana Navarro.

The Alumni Association is also concerned, saying students that are focused on their studies don't need the increased stress and uncertainty of a strike.

“It's going to have a significant impact on their potential studies. If you don't have access to your professors, or if you can't ask questions about your courses, we might see some educational outcomes impacted,” said CBU Alumni Association President Brandon Ellis.

“Our faculty do so many great things, so I hope they're treated fairly, but I don't want to see tuition or fees increase for the students.”

“We are just pressing both sides to come together to reach an agreement,” said CBU Student Union President Damanpreet Singh.

Meanwhile, the university says its best offer is on the table.

“Everything comes down, at this point, to money -- that's the only thing left on the table. And I think that that's probably something that can be resolved,” said Rod Nicholls, a member of the university’s bargaining team.

“If it was a complicated, tricky issue then you might have to have a few weeks, but this is money.”

The last time there was a faculty strike at CBU was in 2000. It was a long dispute that lasted through much of the winter semester.

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