Joscelin Orr would much rather be sitting in class than out in the cold on a picket line. “The students are frustrated at the lack of information and how long the strike has gone on”
Orr joined other students of Sault College Friday afternoon for a rally with members of OPSEU Local 613 representing faculty at the college who have been on strike for about a month.
“We’re all concerned that we’re going to lose our semester, we have reassurances from the college that, that won’t be the case, but as far as I know they’re empty statements”
Orr and other students want answers on how the college plans to fit in the classes when the labour dispute is over, to complete their semester. Talks once again broke down earlier this week and the students see no end to the disruption.
“We’re hearing that the students would rather be in the classroom as we would also like to be back in the classroom as well, but they understand what we’re here for, they understand that we’re trying to change the course so that in fact there are full-time jobs for them when they graduate” said Frank Turco, President Local 613.
Turco is referring to the trend of part-time workers, not just in the post-education field but in many sectors. It’s a growing concern for non-union and unionized work forces where employer’s are hiring more part-time workers to help with their bottom-line.
Turco says the council basically walked away this week from the table and offered the union a final vote which is essentially the same as what they put out September 15th.
“We’re hoping for a “no” on that particular offer as it is laden with concessions ” Turco said of the vote to take place next week.
“This is a watershed moment, this isn’t just a strike it’s a movement to bring back full-time jobs where appropriate .The idea of full-time jobs seems to be disappearing and we don’t think that’s right, we don’t think it’s right for the economy – look, when someone is part-time they can’t buy a house, they can’t buy a car, they can’t really live” Turco said.
“I don’t think there’s any solution to make everyone happy” Orr said, “This is’t just about full-time teachers, other unions are watching” Orr was referring to her own experience in a former government job that kept most positions part-time. “I had to quit because I couldn’t afford to work”
In a statement issued Friday by Deb Mathews, the Ontario Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development spoke of her support for the students during the strike, “While every student’s situation is unique, all students are struggling with continued uncertainty. They are worried about how to pay for unexpected costs like additional rent or canceling long-standing travel plans to be home with family. They’ve told me they are stressed about when they will be able to complete their studies or if there will be any extra help when classes finally resume.”
Matthews is requiring that colleges establish a dedicated fund with all the savings from the strike. The fund will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike.