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Strike action likely at Memorial University of Newfoundland: faculty union

January 30, 2023
The Canadian Press

(jekershner7/Getty Images)

The union that represents more than 800 faculty members at Memorial University of Newfoundland says a strike is almost inevitable.

The Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association issued a statement Sunday saying talks with the university’s administration had reached an impasse, which prompted the union to call on its members to prepare to strike on Monday morning.

As that labour dispute comes to a head, most of the faculty members at Cape Breton University in Sydney, N.S., were expected to continue a strike that started Friday, forcing the cancellation of most classes. And faculty at St. Mary’s University in Halifax could go on strike as early as Feb. 24.

Meanwhile, the faculty union at Memorial said Sunday the university’s administration has barely budged on key issues after more than a year of collective bargaining.

The union’s statement goes on to say it is ready to resume talks with the university.

“Because of the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate on these issues, it appears that no more can be achieved until after our membership demonstrates its strength on the picket lines,” the union said in a statement.

The administration issued a statement Sunday saying its latest contract offer represents substantial improvements in terms of salary, increased benefits for term appointments, enhanced parental leave and increased compensation for teaching extra courses.

Dr. Neil Bose, the university’s vice-president academic, called on the union to present the offer to its membership before moving forward with strike action.

Bose said the university is offering a 12 per cent pay raise over four years, which would bring an average tenure-track salary to $164,084 by September 2026. The administration says the union is asking for a 14 per cent raise over four years.

As well, the university is offering an additional 20 weeks of supplemented parental leave, increased compensation for teaching additional courses and increased benefits for those on term appointments.

“We believe the university’s current offer is fair and balanced,” Bose said in a statement. “We believe this shows a willingness by the university to reach a middle ground . . . . We encourage (the union) to come back to the negotiating table so that we can minimize disruption for students.”

At Cape Breton University, the faculty’s union has said it is seeking pay raises to deal with the soaring cost of living, but it is also calling for changes to how the university is dealing with a rapidly growing population of international students.

The university’s latest wage proposal offers an an increase of eight per cent over the next three years, in addition to existing annual step increases. The administration says the union is seeking a 14 per cent raise over the next two years.

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