Striking Ontario college faculty rejects latest offer, strike will continue


"Had we passed this legislation on Thursday or even on Friday, students would have and could have been in the classroom by Monday, but the NDP chose to block that from happening".

"The premier has the ability to call the legislature back, and the NDP is prepared to sit through the weekend to debate this move".

Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents teaching faculty at colleges across Ontario, have voted to reject an offer from the College Employer Council that would have ended the strike action that began almost five weeks ago.

Earlier Thursday, Matthews had sharp words for both the colleges and the union.

The premier of Canada's most populated province said she met with the union representing the professors and the College Employer Council, representing the province, after a vote by professors Thursday overwhelmingly voted against a contract officer.

Horwath also wants students back in the classroom Monday, she said, but wants that to happen through a deal. In 1992, colleges received 77 per cent of their funding from the government, according to the Canadian Federation of Students - today, the organization says, it's less than 50 per cent.

"The biggest problem with it is that it is a violation of the charter rights of the workers in question here", she said, blaming the government for the record-breaking job action that has affected as many as 500,000 students.

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At St. Clair College, numerous 10,000 students are hoping to be back in class next week.

This news comes just less than 12 hours after Council's offer was once again rejected by OPSEU and the strike was set to continue.

"The Liberals ought to be ashamed of themselves", said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, after sitting in the gallery during Friday's session at Queen's Park.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said her party does not support any legislation that takes away workers' rights. "They can extend the semester all they want but I still need to pay rent". "It was full of concessions and failed to address our concerns around fairness for faculty or education quality". Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews has estimated Ontario's 24 colleges have saved about $5 million so far.

The provincial government has ordered the colleges to create a fund - using savings from the strike - to help students who may be experiencing financial hardship because of the labour dispute. Here, they demanded their tuition money back if the fall semester was lost as a result of the strike.

Vanessa Sampson is a mother of three trying to weather the uncertainty, and while she has her personal support worker diploma to fall back on, she's not working right now because she had meant to focus on school full-time.