Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Talks Resume between Striking Ontario Faculty and Colleges

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Talks Resume between Striking Ontario Faculty and Colleges

Article excerpt

Striking faculty and colleges return to talks


TORONTO - Striking faculty and the council representing Ontario's 24 colleges resumed bargaining talks Thursday as pressure mounts to end the labour dispute that's left half a million students out of class for more than two weeks.

Negotiations between the Ontario Public Sector Employees union, which represents the 12,000 striking college workers, and the College Employer Council, which represents the province's colleges, restarted as union-led protesters rallied at the legislature demanding a resolution in matter.

The talks were the first held since the strike began Oct. 15.

OPSEU's president said Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews had placed pressure on all sides to restart talks.

"It seems like people are so far apart but still, personally, I believe there's a deal there," Warren "Smokey" Thomas said in an interview. "Our side has been working hard to come up with some alternatives to show them some flexibility. We want to see that from the other side. That's where the mediator comes in."

Thomas said he believes Matthews has also heeded the union's demand that the province invest more money in frontline workers at Ontario's colleges and that, in part, has helped draw all parties back to the table.

"The minister has said they will fund the colleges up," he said. "I said to the minister, 'alright, but I want you to put some strings on that money because we've lobbied before and got money in sectors and then have to fight a terrible fight with the employer to get the money that supposed to go to workers.' She took that under advisement. When she tells you that, it means she heard you."

A spokeswoman for Matthews did not say if the province had offered to invest more money in the college system.

"The minister has met with both sides," Tanya Blazina said in a statement. …

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