Volume 94, Issue 86

Tuesday, March 6, 2001


Seventeen suitors vie for VP spots

Bank boss says PhD deficiency disturbing

McMaster staff take to the picket lines

If you like to strike, you're not alone

Cancer care move scares CUPE

Head injuries give police headaches


Corroded Disorder

McMaster staff take to the picket lines

By Hisham Safieddine
Gazette Staff

A strike staged by the McMaster University Staff Association is well under way as the group negotiates for its first collective agreement with university administration.

Chair of communications at MUSA, Deanna Goral, said the association took to the picket lines last week, calling for a better working environment for its members, as well as the reform of an existing benefit plans and an increase in current wages.

"Wages for staff personnel at McMaster are lagging by 15-20 per cent compared with average wages in the Hamilton area," she said.

Members of the association voted in favour of a strike late last week and more than six hundred picketers were registered for the picket lines yesterday, Goral added.

Bilateral talks held between MUSA and the university administration since last April have not been fruitful and MUSA hopes the current strike expresses the association's determination to reach a fair deal in due speed, she said.

Gillian Howard, director of public affairs at McMaster, acknowledged the need to address the demands of staff members. "We recognize that our staff are hardworking individuals who deserve our full support," she said. "At the same time, we cannot sign a deal that we cannot afford."

Howard said prior to reaching any comprehensive agreement, the staff union will be expected to establish its priorities , which is something it has had difficulty accomplishing in the past.

"The fact that no final settlement has been reached to date is not an unusual thing in the history of negotiating collective agreements," she said.

Howard said the strike is a legitimate action by the union, but noted she was concerned with the disrupting effect it has had on the proper functioning of the university.

Many facilities on campus, including libraries and research labs are experiencing staff shortages, which in turn have caused an inconvenience for students and other patrons, she said.

Marc Marzatto, president of the McMaster Students' Union, said students are experiencing huge delays in reaching campus due to the picket lines.

He stressed the neutral position of the Students' Union in the current dispute. "As a student body, we hope the negotiating parties will reach a mutually satisfying settlement in the very near future," he said.

Similar hopes were voiced by vice-president of the faculty association at McMaster, Tom Davison.

Davison said the Faculty Association has no official stand on the issue, albeit many individual professors have shown their full support for MUSA. Davison said he expected a quick resolution to the current situation.

Further meetings between MUSA and the McMaster administration have been scheduled for the course of the week.

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