Pickets down, classes to resume Monday at UNBC

After more than three weeks on strike, the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association took down their picket lines on Friday.

Classes will resume on Monday as a result, UNBC president Daniel Weeks said.

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"Whatever classes students were normally expected to go to on Monday morning, that's what will start on Monday morning," he said.

He advised students to keep an eye on the university's website for any updates from the provost on any accommodations that may be made in answer to the strike.

A senate meeting is tentatively scheduled for Monday afternoon, in which the body will "make all the appropriate adjustments to things like the remaining days in the academic calendar," Weeks added.

However, a settlement remains outstanding.

UNBC FA president Paul Siakuluk said union's members will be refusing to perform duties beyond holding lectures and working with students.

He said the decision to take down the pickets was made after special mediator Trevor Sones adjourned talks between the respective bargaining committees on Thursday evening and the Faculty Association decided to file a complaint with the Labour Relations Board alleging administration has been bargaining in bad faith.

"It's going to be a somewhat lengthy process for the Labour Relations Board to take up our complaint and to ensure that the semester continues and the students are able to get back to class, we are going to take down the pickets," he said.

Weeks said he expects Sones will reach out to the sides in the next day or so with his proposals for reaching a negotiated settlement.

"I'm looking forward to that and hope that he has something significant to offer us," he said.

On the Faculty Association's continued job action and complaint to the LRB, Weeks took a diplomatic stance, saying the union has every right and even an obligation to its members to take those steps.

But Weeks added he is unaware of anything administration has done in bad faith and expects they will be summoned to the LRB to explain their side of the disagreement.

Siakuluk declined to get into specifics but the complaint appears to be centred on differences in opinion on whether a demand made by administration concerning contracts with members outside the collective agreement could put the Faculty Association in legal jeopardy.

"The real tough time has been experienced by our students as certainly their academic year is seemingly in question to them," Weeks said. "I think we're in good shape still. It's going to require a bit of an effort on all parties but I think we're going to be able to get there."

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