Ontario College strike creates problems at some schools - Macleans.ca

Ontario College strike creates problems at some schools

Long lines and traffic jams from Toronto to Timmins

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Picketers at George Brown College, by Josh Dehaas

There are three-hour waits in line to register for courses at George Brown College in Toronto, reports the Toronto Star.

In Belleville, picketers at Loyalist College created a monster traffic jam that caused students and teachers to be late for class, reports the Intelligencer. The traffic jam also hindered regular citizens. One mother told the paper that the traffic jam made her four-year-old daughter more than an hour late for her first day of kindergarten.

There were also long lines of cars trying to enter Northern College yesterday, reports the Timmins Times and traffic woes plagued Mohawk College in Hamilton too, writes the The Spectator.

A Seneca College, a student told the Toronto Star that his orientation was cancelled.

The disruptions are all due to picket lines created by 8,000 Ontario college support staff who went on strike at 24 schools on Sept. 1. The The Ontario Public Service Employees Union members work in bookstores, registration, financial aid offices, IT, janitorial, maintenance and more.

Warren “Smokey” Thomas, OPSEU President, told Maclean’s On Campus on Thursday that workers are striking to protect full-time jobs, because the colleges want to add more part-time employees. “I tell parents and students that we’re fighting for their futures,” he said.

The union has also asked for wage increases. Under the expiring collective agreement, employees who have worked full-time for more than one year are paid between $18.27 and $44.91 per hour. The College Employer Council’s last offer on August 31st included a 4.75 per cent wage increase, paid over three years, which would have put the average salary at just over $59,000.

Although students have faced delays and headaches at some schools, students at Fanshawe College in London told the London Free Press that there were no serious delays getting to campus on Tuesday. At Georgian College in Barrie, Algonquin College in Ottawa and St. Lawrence College in Brockville, local media also reported only minor delays on the first day of class.

What remains unclear is whether government loans will reach students later than usual. Chris Whitaker, president of St. Lawrence College, told The Canadian Press that managers at his school are working to get students’ Ontario Student Assistance Program loans distributed on time. But at Fleming College in Peterborough, all student loan appointments were cancelled this week.