UNB will not lock out professors

Some University of New Brunswick students are worried as a truce in an ongoing labour dispute between the university and faculty set to expire Thursday.

Truce in labour dispute set to expire Thursday

The University of New Brunswick says it will not lock out professors Thursday, as a truce between the two sides expires.

The truce was agreed to in November as negotiations to head off a strike or lock-out continued between the adminstration and the association representing staff to ensure exams would proceed without disruption.

"We are committed to continuing to negotiate to achieve a new collective agreement," UNB said in a statement on its website.

Still, with classes set to resume on Monday, students are concerned, said Cherise Letson, editor of the university newspaper.

"There's definitely been some anxiety, for sure," said Letson.

"They're worried about flying back here and realizing that the university is closed," she said. "Some students are worried about what's going to happen to some of the extracurricular activities they’re involved in."

"And I guess one of the biggest [concerns] I've heard is, 'What's going to happen if there's a strike or a lockout and it prolongs and graduation rolls around — what does that mean?' And also, 'What does this mean for March break if one was to occur?' So, that sort of thing."

Any kind of labour disruption would not be good.- UNB Student Union president Ben Whitney

UNB Student Union president Ben Whitney says even a short strike would be a problem.

"Anything longer than a week or two would start to be a real issue, but again, a strike in general, or any kind of labour disruption would not be good," he said.

"I think people just want to get back and get to their studies and just get on with the semester."

Ninety per cent of the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers' members voted in favour of a strike on Dec. 4.

The association is seeking a percentage salary increase, plus a $4,200 catch-up adjustment in each of the first two years of a new contract, according to a document on the association's website dated last June. The association claims salaries are falling further and further behind the average for similar Canadian universities.

A UNB administration fact sheet claims about 60 per cent of the faculty now earn more than $100,000 a year.

The salary ceiling for a professor at UNB currently stands at $150,510 under the current contract.

The provincial government has appointed a mediator to work with the two sides.

Negotiations started in March.

The AUNBT represents more than 1,000 members at the Saint John and Fredericton UNB campuses.


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