Dalhousie profs strike
By Becky Somerville
Conflict between faculty and administration at Dalhousie University reached a watershed yesterday after faculty members walked off the job leaving students confused about the fate of their year.
Twenty-four hours of negotiations over faculty replacement and salary increases proved unsuccessful as talks broke down Wednesday, prompting a strike and a lock-out, said Dalhousie faculty association spokesman Andy Wainwright.
"The Board of Governors essentially has a non-replacement policy," Wainwright said in response to the faculty's request for guaranteed position replacement when faculty retire or quit.
In the last 10 years, 15 per cent of lost staff have remained unreplaced while student enrollment has increased 15 per cent, Wainwright said. "This results is larger classes and an increased workload for faculty."
University spokesperson Michelle Gallant said administration shares the same concerns as faculty but the university is financially restrained. The administration provides a fair and competitive salary to faculty based on what they can afford, she said. "The union's expectations are higher than the university's ability to pay."
Wainwright said the faculty association is willing to move but the Board of Governors is not. "There must be a compromise for a settlement."
At this point the strike has resulted in cancelled classes, although the university is still open and students are encouraged to continue with assignments and prepare for exams, Gallant said. "Our commitment is to focus on a settlement and disrupt students as little as possible."
However, Dalhousie Student Union President Chris Adams said both parties are concerned only with their own needs, not those of students. "Both sides have been using us as bargaining chips," he said.
Students are uncertain as to how long the strike will last and fear it may disrupt the exam period, rental agreements and summer employment, Adams added.
The Student Union has implemented a 1-800 number, email, information booths and pamphlets designed to keep students informed about the strike, he said.
The faculty association recognizes students want to return to classes and complete their year. "We hope this is settled soon," Wainwright said.
Presently negotiations are pending and while they await a settlement the Student Union is making arrangements for a protest next week.