Universities vs. the government


The strike of the century

On November 21, 2017 over 500,000 college students from Ontario finally returned to school after a 5-week strike that had them out of the classroom. The strike had about 12,000 instructors rally together and many more, as students joined in, from colleges across the province.

The strike began due to the Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) who wanted to see a reduction in the number of part time instructors that were employed. In the last 10 years, the number of part time instructors has increased by 40%.

The OPSEU, wanted more job security, and that instructors were to be hired based on their level of experience and their seniority or if the position had been turned down by a current qualified instructor. The demands that the OPSEU were asking would have meant adding $250 million to the cost of running the colleges. The employer council rejected these demands which then ensued the 5-week long strike. 

After weeks of long deliberation on Monday November 20 a six-page bill was passed to finally end the strike. The instructors were pleased to be back in the classrooms as were most of the students, however, some did express their worries.

In an interview one student said, “I don’t want to feel rushed because I don’t want to fail. We have a small Christmas break, no reading week, and then the next semester right after this semester.” Another student went on to say, “I wouldn’t mind scrapping the semester and starting fresh in the winter."

These students have valid reasonings, with only a few weeks left until the December exam period begins, there is going to be a push to do well, this added pressure will surely have an effect on the students.

With this strike just ending, Acadia University deliberated to go on strike as early as Monday November 27, 2017. The strike was adverted as an agreement came to fruition early that morning. The professors at Acadia University feel as if they have been pushed to this limit-the strike would have put 331 full time and part time staff members on the picket lines.

The staff members of Acadia expressed that they wanted to avoid this strike as they realize how stressful this time of year is for the students. With the exam period beginning in just under two weeks, the strike would have certainly added stress to the student’s agendas. Jeff Banks who sits on the negotiating board of governors had this to say about Acadia's would-be strike: “a strike is never opportune, but it is very stressful for the students at this time."

With the strike that just happened in Ontario and the threat of strike that Acadia narrowly avoided, it’s clear that the staff members of these colleges and universities demand for their inquiries to be heard. The staff members at these institutions work very hard, and put in countless hours for their students. It’s no wonder that they are asking for their demands to be met.

After watching what happened in the Ontario higher education system,  hopefully the government will be able to act in a much quicker way to end the picket line and put the students back in the classrooms in the future. Not only does the strike influence the staff members but the impact really trickles down, and students are hit the hardest. They are the ones missing out in classroom instruction after having paid large sums of money for their education.