College strike continues as faculty members reject latest contract offer

College students seeking strike damages

Updated: Ontario government to table back-to-work legislation to end college strike

But the end is finally in sight for the province's 500-thousand college students with the government's introduction of back to work legislation.

The Ontario government did not get unanimous consent to table back to work legislation that would have pushed to have Ontario college students return to class by Monday, Nov. 20.

If it is blocked again Friday, the government said it intends to sit through the weekend.

As colleges prepare to meet with faculty Monday to sort out the resumption of classes that have been on hiatus since October 16, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union sent a bulletin to members advising them to spend the first 20 minutes talking to students about why they went on strike.

The union called on the colleges to return to the bargaining table Thursday afternoon.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has said in a statement that students have been out of the classes for far too long and was to meet with both sides Thursday in an attempt to solve the impasse.

"I want students back in classrooms Monday, and I want that achieved through a deal", Horwath said.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the forced vote was a "bully move" by the colleges. About half of college students are receiving "free tuition", meaning the grants they get from student aid exceeds the cost of their fees, she said.

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"That's why we are immediately tabling legislation that would end the dispute and return Ontario college students to the classroom where they belong".

Numerous students at the rally Thursday are from Brockville, and many of their fellow students who are from out of town have gone back home while the strike happens, while many others have dropped out.

OPSEU had recommended the colleges' contract proposal be rejected.

The office of Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, declined a request for an interview but said the ministry is working with colleges. "They have to focus on students".

Matthews also said that the semester can still be salvaged.

"The fund will be used to support students who have experienced financial hardships as a result of the strike and its parameters will be developed in direct consultation with students". "They're understandably anxious about how they will make up the lost time as colleges release back-to-school plans that include extending the semester right up to Christmas".

If a majority of union members had accepted the offer, the strike would have ended Thursday.

Law firm Charney Lawyers filed a proposed class action against the 24 colleges Tuesday, saying 14 students have come forward to potentially stand as representative plaintiffs. Students are seeking refunds for lost instruction time, or full refunds for those students who decide not to continue with their program this year.

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