University of Windsor grad students tired of CUPE strike

University of Windsor students are growing increasingly frustrated with the ongoing strike by members of CUPE Local 1393.

Graduate Student Society president says students 'anxious, depressed, annoyed, irritated'

There 2,300 grad students enrolled at the University of Windsor. (CBC News)

University of Windsor students are growing increasingly frustrated with the ongoing strike by members of CUPE Local 1393.

Graduate students are particularly upset, according to Iftekhar Basith, president of the Graduate Student Society.

Hundreds of grad students walked out and rallied alongside union members Monday.

“I’m very frustrated. I receive all the email and I don’t have an answer for them,” Basith said.

He represents 2,300 grad students enrolled at the university. He said many of them are “anxious, depressed, annoyed and irritated,” by the strike, now in its 24th day.

CUPE Local 1393 represents approximately 300 skilled trades and professional employees at the university.

You can't do research if you don't have access to your labs.- Iftekhar Basith

“It’s affected us immensely, especially the graduate students,” Basith said. “Graduate studies are about research and innovation. You can’t do research if you don’t have access to your labs.”

Basith, who is in the process of getting a doctorate in engineering, said he missed a deadline Sept. 27 due to the strike. He also said lab access and software is restricted during the job action.

“I can assure you other graduate students are having the same problem. We’re having a hard time,” he said.

Travis Reitsma is a grad student of sociology. He’s staging daily sit-ins at the office of school president Dr. Wildeman.

“I got tired of the feet on the ground approach. Maybe it’s more effective to come up here and relax in Dr. Wildeman’s office, demand to meet with him and try to help end the strike,” Reitsma said.

Reitsma said he’s “a labour activist” and as graduate assistant he is also a member of CUPE Local 4580.

He thinks students can make a difference.

“If we had a lot of students up here … just our presence here would make him realize that students care about this,” Reitsma said.

Of the 2,300 grad students Basith represents, 50 per cent of them are international students.

“And they’re paying a high amount of money to administrators to get the service,” Basith said. “If they’re not getting the services, how can they justify the expense?”

Basith claims he’s heard from angry and frustrated parents of international students.

“If it goes another week, I would strongly demand the university refund tuition fees,” Basith said.

Negotiations abruptly ended Saturday morning.

Dean Roy, president of CUPE Local 1393, blames the employer for the breakdown.

The union wants better job security and clearer contract language surrounding bumping rights. Job evaluation is also a major sticking point for both sides.

“I thought both parties would sacrifice, thinking about the students. That’s why they’re here, to serve the students. You have to come to an understanding,” Basith said. “We want both of them to go to the bargaining table and the students get the best service.”

Wildeman was optimistic when weekend talks began.

"We weren't there yet. That's all I can say. We need to put some thought to that," Wildeman said of the issues. "Certainly, CUPE 1393 needs to put some thought to it as well."

The University of Windsor Student Alliance has planned “a day of action” for Tuesday.


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