Quebec teaching unions denounce Ontario's interference in collective bargaining at York University

    MONTREAL, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Ontario government is passing up a
chance to improve teaching conditions at York University by legislating an end
to the strike by the university's contract faculty and teaching, research and
graduate assistants, says Ronald Cameron, the president of the Fédération
national des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec (CSN), which represents
both sessional lecturers and teaching assistants in Quebec.
    "Instead of back-to-work legislation, Ontario should address the
underlying issues that caused the strike at York by Canadian Union of Public
Employees Local 3903, issues which are increasingly prevalent at university
campuses across Canada," said Mr. Cameron.
    Richard Hink, president of the Association of Graduate Students Employed
at McGill (AGSEM), noted that students at Canadian universities are now just
as likely to be taught by contract faculty or by other students working as
teaching assistants as they are by tenured professors.
    "These groups are fast becoming the cheap labour pool for post-secondary
education in Canada," said Mr. Hink. "But they often perform the same work as
their tenured counterparts and merit better treatment by their employers."
AGSEM, which is affiliated with the FNEEQ, represents teaching assistants at
McGill University. The union's 2,000 members underwent a successful 11-week
strike for better pay and working conditions last spring.
    FNEEQ vice-president Marie Blais observed that the situation at York is
similar to universities in Quebec, where many "temporary" sessional lecturers
have been teaching for periods of 10 to 25 years, without job security or
recognition of their contribution to the university.
    "People who make their career teaching at one institution should benefit
from stable and predictable working conditions," said Ms. Blais. "If it does
not deal with this problem, the government of Ontario will not settle anything
by interfering in the collective bargaining process."
    Finally, the McGill union denounced the savage police repression of a
peaceful demonstration by York strikers at the Ontario Legislature Tuesday.
"The violent arrests of peaceful protesters yesterday mirror the arrogance of
the York University administration in its treatment of their staff through
these negotiations. Aided and abetted by the Ontario government, the employer
has displayed bad faith since the beginning of this conflict," said Mr. Hink.
    Mr. Hink notes that it was York University which decided to cancel all
classes - not only those taught by contract faculty or teaching assistants -
when the strike was declared 12 weeks ago. "Once again, a university
administration is using collective punishment for all students as a club to
wield against its own employees," noted Mr. Hink.

For further information:

For further information: Lyle Stewart, CSN Communications Service, (514)

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