Between juggling classes and hockey, Scotsburn native Daniel MacLeod has another load on his mind this week – the possibility of a strike at his university.
He, like dozens of other Pictou County residents who attend St. Francis Xavier University could see their academic careers put on hold if a strike were to take place.
Negotiations broke down Jan. 5 between the university and union representatives. The university had proposed to raise salaries by 6.9 percent but the request of the union is for 10 to 11 percent.
A strike could happen as early as Jan. 28 if an agreement is not reached. The university has said they will not lock teachers out though, leaving the decision to strike solely in the hands of the union.
MacLeod said teachers haven’t talked a lot about the strike but are taking some steps to prepare students in case it does happen.
“I get a feeling from the professors that it’s real, that it might happen,” he said.
His own teachers have been focusing on getting class work done and postponing labs because it’s easier to make up the lab time than the class time, he said.
Mary MacGillivray, academic vice president at the university said they’re still hoping to work out a deal with the union.
“Currently, our primary objective is to get back to the negotiating table on the 23rd and 24th for our scheduled two days of conciliated talks with the AUT after the current ‘cooling off’ period,” MacGillivray said.
She said the offer the university is making is comparable to recent Atlantic and Canadian faculty settlements.
“It includes a minimum salary increase of nearly 7 per cent with the majority of members receiving an average salary increase of approximately 16 per cent over the four years when step increments on the salary grids are taken into account,” she said. “It's important to note that this offer is made despite ongoing and serious funding cutbacks by the provincial government, including another cut of 3 per cent this year.”