About 400 faculty and support staff went on strike at St. Francis Xavier University today, prompting the university to cancel classes.

Striking staff members hit the picket lines first thing Monday morning.

“Our members are in support of this. They’re out today, it’s a cold morning, but their spirits are good,” said union president Peter McInnis. “They’re well organized and it looks like it’s going to be an effective strike action.”

Members of the St. FX Association of University Teachers are seeking improved wages and benefits. The two sides are only a few percentage points apart, but that is enough reason for union members to strike.

“People are ready now to go and that’s why we’re out here, freezing our you-know-what,” said striking professor Yvon Grenier.

Classes were cancelled for the day and many students living a short bus ride from the university decided to head home.

“Well, at home I can have showers without shoes and…my mom’s a really good cook, so there’s better food at home,” said student Rachel Campbell.

“I’m not too worried right now because I haven’t paid my second semester tuition yet, but the longer it goes on, the harder it will get for sure,” said student Peter Heerschop.

Student union president Nick Head-Petersen says that concern is shared by the roughly 4,800 students at the school in Antigonish, N.S.

“We want both sides back to the table as soon as possible, because that’s where a resolution is going to be found, is at the table,” said Petersen.

“As of right now, no date has been set for further talks, but the university is prepared to talk,” said communications director Cindy MacKenzie.

The union plans to run a 10-hour picket line each day, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

University administration say classes will remain cancelled until further notice.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh