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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — With negotiations between college school and administration falling via, some UPEI college students are involved but supportive of a potential strike within the close to future.
On Feb. 15, the UPEI School Affiliation introduced it had acquired a strike mandate from members, with 83 per cent voting in favour of strolling off the job if future negotiations with UPEI’s board of governors are unsuccessful.
Whereas the opportunity of a college strike has college students involved, Caitlin Wildman, a UPEI scholar and member of the group College students Assist the UPEIFA, stated many are supportive of what the school is demanding from the college.
“Lots of the problems the school are dealing with need to do with the increasing class sizes,” she stated.
“We’re seeing bigger and bigger lessons – 100 to 400 college students in a number of the science applications – however we’re additionally seeing much less selection in lessons. Lots of it’s because they don’t seem to be changing full-time school after they retire, so there’s much less course selection, much less programs provided.”
Wildman stated most of the proposals put earlier than the college by the UPEIFA are issues that may assist improve the standard of the schooling college students are receiving – one thing highlighted by the outcomes of a scholar survey her group is in the midst of conducting.
“It’s not the school’s fault, it’s a systemic problem attributable to the college’s administration,” she stated.
“From the survey and folks we’ve talked to, there’s help for the academics to go on strike to enhance our studying situations and their working situations.”
Wildman stated many college students have complained a few lack of helps that was once out there earlier than the pandemic for a lot of programs.
Whereas there’s help from the scholar physique, there’s additionally concern about how a strike would have an effect on college students.
Nevertheless, a strike shouldn’t be assured. Michael Arfken, president of UPEIFA, stated whereas members are ready to stroll, the hope is the strike mandate will reopen negotiations between the college and the union.
Up till this level, negotiations have felt extra like a dialog, stated Arfken, with the college making virtually no motion on many of the proposals put ahead by the union.
“It’s not anyone single problem that’s the hitching level, it’s that for the previous 10 months, they haven’t seen a purpose to barter with us,” he stated.
“They suppose issues are wonderful and that, for probably the most half, what’s in our collective settlement is ok. However it’s not. When you might have 83 per cent of individuals saying they’re keen to stroll off the job in an effort to sort things on campus, that’s a priority. There are issues that have to be addressed,” he stated.
In an emailed response to SaltWire Community, a spokesperson for UPEI stated it’s keen to return to negotiations however with the help of mediator Michelle Flaherty.
“UPEI stays dedicated to reaching a settlement with the UPEI School Affiliation via any avenue, together with curiosity arbitration, to attain a mutually useful settlement that’s in one of the best pursuits of our college students and college group and earlier than any labour disruption happens,” stated the assertion.
The assertion additionally stated UPEIFA has “held quick to numerous proposals on workload, conversion of sessional and time period school to tenure-stream, general school numbers and wage will increase,” proposals the assertion stated “will not be reasonably priced.”
Arfken agreed they’re asking for extra full-time school positions to create a greater student-to-faculty ratio. He stated the present variety of scholar enrolments in comparison with the full-time school members is “somewhat uncontrolled.”
On salaries, Arfken stated the proposal the college has is the primary one provided by the UPEIFA, which was set to the speed of inflation. Nevertheless, he stated the intent was for the union to compromise on salaries if different proposals have been accepted.
“We stated we’re keen to soak up a number of the prices of inflation if we see significant motion on a number of the different priorities we’ve recognized,” he stated.
“There haven’t been any negotiations round that as a result of they aren’t all for negotiating wage.”
Whereas members are prepared and keen to strike if negotiations fall via once more, Arfken stated it gained’t be till at the very least March, after the Canada Winter Video games have ended.
“We really feel like we’re a part of the group, and we’re excited P.E.I. goes to be showcased in the way in which it’s,” he stated.
“Now we have these athletes who’ve educated their complete lives, so we’re not making an attempt to interrupt that or trigger issues for Canada Video games. We’re enthusiastic about it identical to everyone else.”
As for Wildman, if and when the strike occurs, she stated the school can have loads of help from college students.
“None of us need to see a strike, but when the administration goes to proceed with what they’ve been doing, I believe college students completely will be a part of academics on the picket line,” she stated.
“There’s much more help from the scholar physique than I believe (the administration) believes.”