Brandon U profs voting on offer next week
Premier mum on what may happen if union rejects latest offer
Striking professors at Brandon University will be voting on the university's latest offer next week, but the union that represents them says the forced contract vote will be a waste of time.
The contract vote, which was imposed on the Brandon University Faculty Association by the province, will take place Tuesday and Wednesday in Winnipeg, then on Thursday in Brandon.
BUFA members outside the province will have their ballots mailed to them, union officials said Wednesday afternoon, following a meeting they had with the Manitoba Labour Relations Board.
About 240 professors, instructors, librarians and professional associates at the western Manitoba university have been on strike since Oct. 12.
Minister orders vote
This week, in an unprecedented move, Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard ordered BUFA to vote on the university's latest offer.
But BUFA says it is telling members to reject the university's offer. The union says the forced vote will be a waste of time because progress can't be made on negotiations in the meantime.
"If the minister or anybody thinks this was to speed things up … how does not knowing what the vote is for nine days help anybody?" BUFA spokesman John Forsythe told CBC News.
Talks between the university and BUFA broke off earlier this month despite efforts by government-appointed mediator Michael Werier, who has since called for binding arbitration in the ongoing dispute.
Meanwhile, about 50 Brandon University students and parents held a rally late Wednesday afternoon outside the local Canad Inns hotel, where Premier Greg Selinger was addressing members of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.
Premier reassures parents
The crowd called on the province to end the strike, which was in its 43rd day on Wednesday and is putting students at risk of losing their fall semester.
Selinger later met with some of the concerned parents, reassuring them that the province is doing what it can to resolve the labour dispute.
All that parents and students can do at this point is wait for the results of the association's contract vote, Selinger said.
But the premier would not say what may happen next if the majority of BUFA members vote against the university's offer.
Earlier this week, Howard said binding arbitration may be an option should the offer be rejected.
With files from the CBC's Nelly Gonzalez