Professors at Université Laval threaten to go on strike next week
Negotiations far from being resolved, says union
Students at Université Laval in Quebec City could soon have their classes suspended if professors go on strike next week.
The strike is scheduled to take place from Feb. 20 to March 3. The union representing professors says the sticking points relate to workload, salary increases, academic freedom and the protection of vulnerable employees.
Despite negotiating since Sept.1, the union, which represents around 1,300 professors, has not reached an agreement with the university.
"We have made some progress, but we are still shy of an agreement," said Louis-Philippe Lampron, president of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l'Université Laval.
As a result, all teaching and learning activities offered by professors belonging to the union would be suspended if the strike goes ahead, whether held in-person or remotely. However, activities offered by other staff members like lecturers and assistant professors would continue as usual.
While supporting the professors in their decision to strike, the union representing lecturers has asked its members to continue meeting their obligations but not to take on additional work to fill the gap left by absent professors.
During the strike, the library, sports pavilion and student office would remain open.
According to the university, reading week, which runs from March 6–10, would go on as planned with no evaluations taking place.
The university says extending the semester is a last resort, but graduation could be delayed if the strikes last longer than two weeks.
The professors' union will be holding a meeting on March 2 to take stock of progress in negotiations.
"We want to be able to find a solution as soon as possible, but if the divide remains, there is the option of an indefinite general strike," said Lampron.
On Jan. 20, members of the professors' union voted 96 per cent in favour of the strike.
"These are recurring, persistent problems that we are tackling," said Lampron. "The mobilization of the members clearly demonstrates the importance of the negotiation."
The last time the union went on strike was in 2008.
With files from Radio-Canada