Volume 95, Issue 27

Friday, October 19, 2001
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The Belton tolls for Board of Govenors

Anthrax scare at LHSC

Brar, Brebnar suffer electoral defeat

Election results

Sept. 11 creates Christmas travel chaos

A/C guys pissed off and ready to picket

The world at war

News briefs

A/C guys pissed off and ready to picket

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

Ten engineers working at Western's Physical Plant have voted unanimously in favour of a strike.

Due to a negotiation impasse with Western administration over a collective bargaining agreement, the stationary engineers – responsible for heating and air conditioning throughout campus, including residences – are willing to walk off the job Oct. 27 if a settlement is not reached.

"While I am not at liberty to discuss specifics of the negotiations, I will say [our] bargaining unit is simply seeking a fair and equitable settlement," said chief negotiator Greg Hoath of the International Union of Operating Engineers. "Wages, pensions and benefits all remain outstanding issues."

The two parties have agreed to provincial government mediation on Oct. 24.

Western spokesperson David Estok said the university is hopeful a settlement can be reached.

"We believe we made a very reasonable offer," he said.

If the ten licensed engineers were to strike, installation and maintenance of the school's temperature control systems could be affected.

Hoath said the workers are the only individuals on campus who are licensed to do the job and the university will bring in replacement workers if the engineers decide to strike.

"It's been going on for a number of years," Hoath said. "We've tried to approach the issue from a different direction and it doesn't seem to matter. We conducted a quite extensive comparison study of Western engineers and others around the province so they can better understand our point of view, but the university hasn't taken notice."

As of yesterday, neither side were able to see an end to the impasse.

"The parties are a reasonable distance apart," Hoath said. "It's hard to say where it'll end up.

"But we remain hopeful of a satisfactory conclusion to our negotiations," he added. "Disrupting the campus, the faculty, other employees and, of course, the students, is the last thing we want to do."

Frank Proctor, one of the engineers and negotiation committee members, said his co-workers have been disappointed with what's being offered. According to Proctor, this would be the first strike by the engineers since 1985.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001