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Ontario college strike ‘should not affect’ apprenticeship programs

College strike, classroom

By Tom Davis

Peterborough, Ontario — October 16, 2017 — More than 12,000 faculty members of Ontario’s 24 public colleges are currently on strike after negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employer Council (CEC) failed on Sunday.

The Chair of the union bargaining team, J.P. Hornick, said it had presented the CEC with an offer that represented the “bare minimum” the OPSEU needed to ensure “quality education for students and treat contract faculty fairly.”

“Unfortunately, [the] Council refused to agree on even the no-cost items, such as longer contracts for contract faculty and academic freedom,” she said in a statement on Sunday evening. “This leaves us with no choice but to withdraw our services until such time as our employer is ready to negotiate seriously.”

Hornick said the council is committed to a “Walmart Model of Education”, which she said was based on reducing the role of full-time faculty and exploiting underpaid contract workers who have no job security beyond one semester.

Speaking to Collision Repair magazine, Mike Kennelly, Program Coordinator of the Auto Body and Collision Damage Repairer apprenticeship track at Fanshawe College, said: “At the moment the impact of the strike on apprenticeships is more of a grey area than it is either black or white. However, the strike shouldn’t have a huge impact on apprenticeships. The strike will postpone the graduations by a very short time period but it will not be detrimental for their education, it’s more of an inconvenience.”

Kennelly added that, after the strike is finished, the college will get back in touch with its apprenticeship students to organize an appropriate time to finish their current level of education. Some students have just one more week until their current level has been completed.

In a statement Sunday, the CEC called the strike “completely unnecessary,” claiming it was unfair to students.

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