Strike avoided, for now

(CUP)–The faculty union at UNB won’t strike for the time being.

A conciliation board has been formed to settle the contract dispute between the university administration and approximately 600 full times teachers, researchers and librarians, represented by Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers (AUNBT), post-secondary education Minister Donald Arsenault announced last week.

UNB’s full-time faculty has been without a contract since June 2009. Talks broke down between the faculty and administration earlier this month, despite the efforts of a conciliation officer.

The two parties, which have agreed to a media blackout over the discussions, announced through a joint press release that the board will help settle the “remaining bargaining differences between the parties.”

Conciliation boards are not a common route to solve such disputes in New Brunswick, but remain an option for the post-secondary education minister as part of the province’s Industrial Relations Act.

It’s the union is looking to remove a two-year wage freeze from a proposed four-year contract, the Daily Gleaner reported this month.

As AUNBT and UNB continue with negotiations, the last agreement–in effect from July 1, 2005 until June 30, 2009–will remain honoured.

The latest joint release claims that both sides “continue to share the goal of supporting the communities around us and of making UNB a better place to study and work.”

At St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., students breathed a sigh of relief on Feb. 16 as they found out that their faculty and administration had reached a tentative contract agreement just days before the faculty union was in a legal position to strike. The union must now ratify the agreement with a membership vote. Details of the St. FX negotiations were also subject to a media blackout.

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