Volume 96, Issue 78
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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It's Miller time
Conciliator brought in

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

A conciliator has been appointed by the Ontario Ministry of Labour to help the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association and Western administration reach a deal in ongoing contract negotiations.

David Estok, director of Western's department of communications and public affairs, confirmed J. Miller was appointed last week. "Both parties are working with the conciliator to find a common date," he said.

Estok said the process is not always the same. "Different conciliators do it differently," he said, adding the main goal is for the conciliator to speak to both sides and gain an understanding of their perspective.

UWOFA president Paul Handford said the conciliator has contacted the union and sent an initial set of dates to meet. "On some days, [meetings] will be together; at other times, it will be with [one party]," he said, adding the conciliator's role is also to get the parties to understand the other's side.

The conciliator will also provide each side with an assessment on the strength of their arguments and an idea of how firm each party will hold to their respective positions.

"[The conciliator] is also at liberty to suggest new solutions to certain problems," Handford said.

Patrick O'Gorman, senior communications officer at the Ministry of Labour, said the meetings can take place relatively quickly. "Generally speaking, eventually the sides all come to an agreement," he said.

If conciliation is not effective, either party can request a "no board report," 17 days after which, both parties are in a legal strike or lockout position, O'Gorman confirmed.

Negotiations between Western administration and UWOFA reached an impasse Jan. 31 and UWOFA called for the conciliator. Faculty members voted to give the union a strike mandate two weeks earlier.

A motion will be brought forward by a councillor at this Wednesday's University Students' Council meeting on whether or not to support UWOFA during negotiations.

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2002 THE GAZETTE