St. Francis Xavier University faculty strike looms
Emergency contract talks break down Thursday night
Contract talks have broken down between St. Francis Xavier University and its faculty in Antigonish, prompting the faculty association to announce its members are prepared to strike on Monday.
The 400 members of the St. FX Association of University Teachers — which include faculty, librarians, lab instructors and extension staff — have been without a contract for eight months.
"The association remains committed to achieving a fair and equitable settlement at the bargaining table," Peter McInnis, the president of the union, said in a statement released Friday morning.
"We have concluded, however, following a careful review of the offer on the table that our members are now prepared to undertake strike action in support of the AUT negotiation team."
Two days of talks — a last-ditch effort by the parties to ward off a strike — ended late Thursday.
"It is with regret that I inform the campus community that talks between the university and the AUT have broken off," Sean Riley, the president of St. Francis Xavier University said in a statement.
"While progress was made on many issues, the AUT executive's demands remained well beyond the university's financial capability."
Union wants better benefits, pension
Neither statement divulged details on the union's current position nor that of the administration.
Three weeks ago, the faculty association rejected an offer by the university to raise salaries by 6.9 per cent after the union said it was arguing for an increase of 10 or 11 per cent over four years.
The union was also arguing for better working conditions, permanent status for teachers who are hired on contract and expanded health and dental benefits.
The St. FX Association of University Teachers would only say the university administration's offer was "below recent Atlantic university settlements and well below the cost of living."
"We will, of course, be in a position to engage in legal strike action on Monday but it doesn't preclude any further negotiations because of course, that's where it's going to be settled, at the table," said McInnis.
"We will welcome a return as soon as possible."
Of the 78.4 per cent of St. FX Association of University Teachers who participated in a strike vote in October, 79.6 per cent voted in favour of giving their negotiators a strike mandate.