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End to college strike finally in sight

By Celina Ip

Algonquin College Waterfront Campus.

Algonquin College Waterfront Campus.

PEMBROKE - 

The Ontario government is looking to introduce a back-to-work legislation to end the five-week-old work stoppage that has affected everyone at Algonquin College.

 

The strike, which began on Oct. 16 and has now become the longest college strike in Ontario’s history, has affected more than 500,000 students province-wide, including about 1,030 students at the Algonquin College Waterfront Campus. Represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the 12,000 full and part-time staff have been taking to the picket line and protesting for ‘quality education’ at their colleges across the province.

On Nov. 16, a push by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s to end the five-week-old college strike was immediately blocked by the New Democratic Party.

With 87 per cent of faculty members rejecting the colleges’ latest off on Thursday evening, the NDP refused the back-to-work legislation to show their support for the college staff reaching a negotiated settlement.

To reach a resolution and end the five-week strike, the legislature is meeting Nov. 17 and will be engaged in discussions throughout the weekend until the back-to-work legislation is passed.

“From a faculty point of view, we are going to be pleased to do our job again. We're uncertain as to how this is all going to work out in the end, but we are in this profession to help students and we're going to be glad we can do that again,” said Pauline Edmonds, Algonquin College professor. “All of us are prepared to work very hard for our students and we know that there are going to be difficulties ahead, we just hope that we get the support from the college to do the job we need to do for the students.”

Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen said that she keenly welcomes the government’s efforts to get Algonquin College’s students back in the classroom as soon as possible.

Jensen’s hope is that the legislature will be able to come to a decision as quickly as possible so that students can be back in the classroom as early as next week.

“They're going to be sitting this afternoon and we will be waiting for the results of when the back-to-work legislation gets passed. Once it is passed, we will be bringing our faculty back as soon as we can so that students can get back to school right away,” said Jensen.

The president added that she is very committed to the students and will ensure that proper steps are taken to help the learners get back on track with their studies.

“We've been working to make sure that we put a framework in place so that all of our students will be able to complete their academic year. We will also be consulting with the faculty on their first day back to make sure that we've got the details of those plans in place for those students when they return the next day,” said Jensen.

cip@postmedia.com