It is now the third week of the College faculty strike by OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union) members and there has been no resolution. The school year for 150,000 students has been temporarily sidelined, while college faculty tries to negotiate a settlement for their contract with Ontario’s colleges. The contingency plan put together by the college presidents, to ensure a completed semester, has been a total farce. The students realized that the only way to end the strike is to deal fairly with OPSEU and address the important issues such as quality education and class sizes.
The OPSEU demonstration on Mar. 16 was the first time the students took to the streets to show the provincial government that there is widespread support for this strike. OPSEU members and college students marched in solidarity to Queen’s Park, where there was a large rally held in front of Chris Bentley’s office. Bentley who is the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, has been virtually non-existent in getting the two sides to meet and discuss ways to resolve the issues.
The students have felt voiceless during the strike, and the rally was one way to make them heard. They presented their concerns with loud chants and large signs, and a few students dressed as chess pieces to signify that an education is not something to play with. Students stood united with OPSEU because they realize that the picket line is where the real issues are being dealt with for Ontario’s 24 community colleges.