Ontario’s college support staff on strike

Colleges say classes will resume as usual when new school year begins
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/01/2011

Ontario’s 8,000 college support staff walked off the job Sept. 1, 2011 after negotiations for a new contract failed. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) members will begin picketing at over 100 campuses across the province immediately.

“We tried to reach an accommodation with management negotiators but it became very clear as we approached the strike deadline that they were not prepared to meet us on terms we could accept,” says chair of the OPSEU bargaining committee Rod Bemister. “We are prepared to return to negotiations at any time but management must adopt a fresh approach.”

OPSEU is asking for a salary increase of three per cent in each year of the three-year contract. The College Employer Council (CEC) is offering a 4.8 per cent salary increase over the life of the contract.

“The colleges have provided a good offer that increases the average salary for support staff to more than $59,000 with no concessions,” says chair of the colleges' bargaining team Gerry Barker. “We had hoped to reach a settlement but, unfortunately, the union is striking over wage and benefit demands that the colleges simply cannot afford.”

The offer tabled by the CEC contains the following wage adjustments:

  • a one-time lump sum payment equal to 1.5 per cent of annual salary in the first year
  • a salary increase of 1.5 per cent in the second year
  • a salary increase of 1.75 per cent in the third year

According to the CEC, this new offer raises the average annual support staff salary by approximately $1,845 to just under $58,172 after three years and the initial lump sum payment will equate to an average payment of $845 per member.

The CEC says that all 24 of Ontario’s colleges will be operational when the school year begins and that contingency plans will be put into place to manage through the strike.

In July, OSPEU voted 77 per cent in favour of striking should an agreement not be reached.

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