Huron dining staff strike continues

Strikers switch tactics, taking 'calm' approach; employer won't meet with union for at least a week

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Members of Huron University College’s dining hall staff toned down their approach yesterday as they entered their second day of a strike for a new contract.

The strike started Monday after the staff, represented by Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 144, couldn’t reach an agreement with its employer, Compass Group Canada, the dining hall’s manager and operator. The Huron staffers were unhappy with wages and their number of sick days.

Monday, the picketers blocked the Huron parking lot, causing a buildup of traffic down Western Road. Several students complained about being unable to get to classes and exams on time.

“That might have had a negative effect,” said Scott Godin, a strike organizer. “Some people faced an hour-and-a-half wait, and that was unfortunate.”

Godin said yesterday the picketers changed to a calm approach and, instead of blocking traffic, they asked students to sign a petition as they drove into campus.

Godin said 80 per cent of students were very respectful of their plight and signed the petition. Some even brought water bottles, peanuts and donuts for the strikers, he added.

According to Godin, Compass Group Canada said it won’t meet with the union for another week.

“That means we’ll be out here for at least another week,” Godin said, adding the strikers plan to continue using a calm approach unless they deem a change necessary.

“From my perspective " and my window faces the picket line " things are moving much more smoothly, and that’s a big relief for all of us,” said Trish Fulton, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at Huron.

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