Students at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) are back in class today Dec. 2 after the university’s faculty association suspended their strike.
In a statement posted last Friday afternoon on the faculty union’s website, the association has filed a complaint of bad faith bargaining against the university’s administration with the provincial Labour Relations Board (LRB).
The move comes after the province appointed special mediator Trevor Sones of the LRB to try and bring an end to the three-week strike. UNBC faculty chief negotiator Ted Binnema says although they were willing to continue negotiations, the mediator decided to call for an adjournment.
“Considering that fact along with the reality that our students’ semester hangs in the balance, the UNBC FA has decided to suspend picketing at 4:30 this afternoon [Nov. 29] so that the semester can continue while the LRB is hearing our bad-faith bargaining complaint,” Binnema wrote in the most recent statement.
However, the faculty’s job action efforts will continue until an agreement is reached, the association says. The union, which represents faculty members, librarians, lab instructors and sessional instructors has been on strike since Nov. 7 at the Terrace and Prince George campuses.
“At this time, the UNBC FA will limit job action to the withdrawal of internal university service work, except for service to the UNBC Senate and UNBC Board of Governors.”
The UNBC FA expected to update members further after meetings taking place Saturday, Nov. 30.
On the university’s website, the UNBC President Daniel Weeks writes the administration has acknowledged the faculty association’s decision to file the claim with the LRB, and will present their position to the board.
“The special mediator has indicated he will be in touch with us in the coming days and we look forward to his input in helping us achieve a negotiated settlement,” Weeks writes.
In the meantime, he says he’s happy to see the pickets come down.
“The University community will do all we can to welcome students back to our campuses and support them as they finish this semester.”
On Nov. 25, university administrators also announced it is working on a non-refundable financial credit to students who have been out of class since the strike by faculty began earlier this month.
A post on the university’s website says the value of the credit depends on the length of the strike, and that that will be determined once a new contract is reached.
— with files from Canadian Press