ANTIGONISH – A strike is looming at St. Francis Xavier University after conciliation talks between its administration and the St. FX Association of University Teachers broke down Saturday.
In a press release from the University, it stated that the association walked out of conciliation talks after rejecting its latest offer. It also stated that the break down in talks means the conciliator will present a report to the Minister of Labour and a 14-day countdown to a potential Union initiated strike has been triggered.
Ramsay Duff, Vice President Finance and Operations, stated in the release that the offer the Univeristy made was reasonable.
“The university made a fair, competitive offer that was rejected by the union,” he stated. “The university's offer is comparable to recent Atlantic and Canadian faculty settlements, in contrast to the last proposal by the Union which was three times higher than regional and national settlement averages.”
The release noted highlights of the University's financial offer, including minimum annual salary increases of 1.5 per cent, 1.5 per cent, 1.75 per cent and 2.0 per cent for a total compounded rate of 6.92 per cent over the life of the four-year agreement.
“These increases are occurring in an environment of continuing provincial government funding cutbacks to post secondary education,” the university said.
The association stated in a statement posted on its website Sunday that there was a mutual impasse in the conciliation talks held this past weekend.
“…under the direction of provincial conciliator John Greer, the AUT presented a complete package of contract issues with modifications from our December position. Once again, the administration’s response has been consistently negative with regard to a broad range of monetary and non-monetary issues for the eight groups that constitute our union,” the association stated. “Our Negotiating Team of Brad Long, Sherry Bowman, and Bruce Sparks want to make clear they did not ‘walk out’ from the sessions, but rather as there was little evidence that the administration had seriously considered AUT proposals, there ensued a mutual impasse.”
Duff stated that the break down in conciliation talks was a result of the association executives’ action “to stop participating in the conciliation process.
“The university has stated from the outset that it is committed to reaching a negotiated agreement and avoid any negative impact on students. As such, the university urges the Union to come back to the table and substantively respond to its offer."
The association said in its statement that it also wants negotiations to continue.
“The AUT remains committed to participate actively in ongoing negotiations and we invite the university administration to join with us in the spirit of constructive dialogue leading to a fair collective agreement.”