Nova Scotia

Strike possible at Cape Breton University after talks break down

The association representing faculty at Cape Breton University says negotiations with the institution have broken down and there are no plans for further talks.

Layoff clause is the key issue for the university's faculty association

A layoff clause is the key issue in the contract dispute. (George Mortimer/CBC)

The association representing faculty at Cape Breton University says negotiations with the institution have broken down. 

Both sides had been working this week to avoid a potential work stoppage after a proposed deal was rejected by the university's board of governors last month.

Calvin Howley, vice-president of the faculty association and a member of the negotiating team, said in a message to members that the two sides met Thursday morning along with conciliator Peter Lloyd.

"Both sides clarified their relative positions but unfortunately the talks have broken down," Howley said in the statement to the association, which represents about 150 members.

"The impasse continues over details of Article 39, the layoff clause."

Strike possible

The clause allows the university to lay off faculty members in a financial emergency or for academic reasons, if the university needs or wants to shut down a program.

The association, which represents a variety of staff including librarians, research chairs and professors, has said the clause raises concerns about what would be available for students in Cape Breton.

Howley said in his statement that the association's executive will be meeting to discuss next steps, but no negotiations are planned. 

"You will be notified should the decision to call a strike be forthcoming," he said. 

The association had accepted a proposed three-year agreement in November with 92 per cent of members voting in favour. But the university's 35-member board of governors voted against ratification in early December.

The board also voted to release university president David Wheeler by unanimous vote.

With files from George Mortimer

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