Volume 95, Issue 48
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Western support staff may strike
Registrar's office would be affected
By Erin Conway-Smith
Support staff at Western will be in a strike position on Dec. 10 if an agreement cannot be reached between the university and the UWO Staff Association.
Negotiations between Western administration and the UWOSA have been ongoing since the association's contract expired June 30, said UWOSA president Sue Desmond. The expired contract remains in effect until a new one is ratified, she said.
The UWOSA represents approximately 1,000 administrative and technical support staff at Western, including secretaries, library assistants and research technicians, Desmond said.
Western administration requested a conciliator from the Ministry of Labour to help with negotiations following 19 days of meetings since June, said David Estok, Western's director of communications and public affairs.
The two parties met with the conciliator last Monday from 1 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
"[At 2:30 a.m.], we made a counter proposal to the university," Desmond said. "They left the room and when they returned, they indicated the two parties were too far apart and asked the conciliator to issue a no board report."
"We just got notification of the no board report in the mail today," Desmond added. As a result, Western would be in a position to lock out UWOSA as of Dec. 10, at which point UWOSA would be in a legal strike position.
Desmond said a date will be set in the next few days for staff association members to meet and decide if they will adopt a strike mandate.
"If the lockout was to actually take place on Dec. 10, I would expect it would have an impact on students," Desmond said. While some of the work would be shifted to individuals in managerial positions who do not fall under UWOSA, students would still notice a loss of services, in particular at the library and registrar's office, she said.
"The university is developing a plan in the event there is a labour dispute," said Estok. "We're still hoping we can get a deal."
Kevin Barkey, a second-year media, information and technoculture student, said he would be concerned with a disruption in services.
"I have a lot of essays due next semester and I need help finding books," he said.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001