York students protest stalled negotiations
Up to 25 people continue to stage a sit-in outside the office of York University's president to protest stalled negotiations in a strike that has cancelled classes for nearly six weeks.
Teaching assistants and student supporters first camped outside the office of Mamdouh Shoukri on Monday, refusing to budge until he answered a list of their questions.
"We just want Shoukri to come out and talk to us and answer some questions," one person sitting on the hallway floor told reporters.
Alex Bilyk, a spokesman for the university, told ctvtoronto.ca that Shoukri and other members of the executive team did take questions four days ago after a university senate meeting.
Asked if the university had made it known in advance that Shoukri would be available for questions, he said, "It was known that they were going to be there ... and people availed themselves of it."
The union representing nearly 3,400 contract faculty and teaching assistants has been on strike since November 6.
The academic year is in jeopardy for thousands of York University students. At this point, if a settlement was reached, the winter semester would be shortened, Reading Week would be cancelled and the exam schedule would be condensed.
However, if the strike lasts a couple more weeks, the school year might have to be extended to May.
"We really want to negotiate with them," said another protester. "So much so that we came down here so that we could talk to them."
Bilyk said: "What we've put on the table that is fair, reasonable and sustainable."
The offer included a 9.25 per cent wage increase over three years, while the union is believed to be seeking 11 per cent over two years plus improved job security. Officials on both sides say they are too far away.
The university is prepared for talks at any time, "depending on a mediator calling us together. And we're prepared to be there for Christmas if we have to," Bilyk said.
He also said the the school's president will likely not get involved in the negotiations.
CTV Toronto's John Musselman said university officials tell him the academic year isn't yet in jeopardy. The winter session could be extended and Reading Week cancelled.
However, when asked what might happen if the strike went on for up to three more weeks, there was no comment, he said.
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman