Back-to-work bill passes

21 November, 2017, 01:24 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • St. Clair College

Back-to-work legislation was passed over the weekend and teachers will return to work today in preparation for the resumption of classes on Tuesday.

Twelve-thousand professors, instructors, counselors and librarians have been on the picket line since October 15 to protest the increasing use of contract and part-time workers.

Colleges are extending their semesters so students don't lose their terms, but student advocates say trying to condense five missed weeks into roughly two extra ones will be very stressful.

On Monday, the Ministry of Advanced Education said students will have two weeks from tomorrow, when classes resume, to decide whether they want to continue with the condensed semester, or drop out and take the refund.

The bill requires the current strike at Ontario's colleges to be terminated, and prevents any additional strikes or lock-outs arising from the dispute until a new collective agreement is signed.

Wynne also ordered the province's colleges to create a dedicated fund with all the savings from the strike, made up of unpaid wages to striking staff and other savings from not operating the schools, to help students experiencing financial hardship. "I think it's appropriate to actually return that money to students".

"You don't know what to study, and a lot of students feel this way", she said last week.

In addition to a full refund for those who withdraw, fulltime students who decide to stay can apply to receive up to $500 for unexpected costs they incurred due to the strike.

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"Nobody anticipated it would go on so long, nobody anticipated it would be a five-week strike", she said.

Lambton College student Jade Flay is helping organize a class-action lawsuit against Ontario's colleges.

"Mixed feelings", said Grant Currie, president of Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 417, which represents more than 400 full-time faculty at St. Lawrence College.

That's understandable politics, but it has real-world effects: if colleges had known on Thursday that the NDP was going to allow the bill to pass on Sunday night, they might have been able to get students back on Monday.

The fall semester at many schools will be extended into the week starting December 18, with some colleges like George Brown finishing as late as December 22.

"All that time is typically turnaround time for faculty", Currie said.

Willett said regardless of the government policy, students will have to deal with the aftermath of the labour dispute. "It's time to put this ugly chapter behind us, and to get focused on ensuring college students get back in the classroom as soon as possible".

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