Laurentian University strike enters second week, administration says new offer on table

Laurentian University has tabled two new proposals it hopes will get professors back into the classroom.

Increased workload an issue, says union, while university says salary and pensions on table

Several dozen Laurentian University students joined striking professors on the picketline Monday afternoon. (Erik White/CBC)

Laurentian University has tabled two new proposals it hopes will get professors back into the classroom.

The 500 full-time and sessional faculty members have been on the picket lines since Thursday morning, prompting the university to cancel all classes. It's the first time Laurentian professors have been on strike since 1989.

The two sides were scheduled to return to the bargaining table Thursday, but Laurentian chief of staff Alex Freedman said after working through the weekend, the university has sent two new offers to the union.

Laurentian University Chief of Staff Alex Freedman says the university tabled an offer to striking faculty over the weekend. (Angela Gemmill/ CBC)

"Quite frankly waiting until Thursday doesn't make sense," Freedman said. "We're ready to be at the table having these conversations now. And we'd like to make sure that happens."

The offers focus on "alternative approaches" to some of the outstanding issues, but Freedman wouldn't get into details.

James Ketchen, president of the Laurentian University Faculty Association, the union that represents instructors, wouldn't shed any light on either side's positions, either.

"It's up in the air of course and things are moving very fast," Ketchen said. "I can tell you it's a hopeful sign that they've sent that to us and indicated that they're ready to re-engage in negotiations."

The major issue in the labour dispute is workload, the union said, while the university countered that salary and pensions are also on the table.

The two sides are set to sit down with a mediator on Thursday, which was scheduled before the professors went out on strike.