Registered Nurses Association speaks up about college strike
Dr. Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. (Jane Willsie/For Postmedia Network)
As week four of the strike that has faculty and students from 24 Ontario colleges out of the classroom comes to a close, the Registers Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is weighing in on the matter.
In a statement released on Thursday, Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of the RNAO, urges the College Employer Council to return to the bargaining table to end the strike.
“It is shocking that college instructors, who play such a critical role educating tomorrow’s workers, have such precarious working conditions,” the statement from Grinspun reads.
In an interview on Friday, she said the fact that the strike has gone on for so long now is what spurred the RNAO to take a stand and share its voice in the matter.
She said what’s happening with teaching faculty is essentially what happened with nursing staff years ago. At one point, she said 50 per cent of registered nurses were part-time or contract employees; since then, registered nurses are now full time.
Regardless of what field one is working in, Grinspun said unstable working conditions have a negative effect on the quality of work people are able to produce. If employees are too worried about where their next jobs are going to come from should their contracts end or if they need to work several jobs just to make ends meet, they can’t truly dedicate themselves to any one position.
When it comes to teaching faculty, Grinspun said this affects the students because they can’t get the quality of education they need to move forward with their careers.
“We want top quality graduates and you cannot get top quality graduates if your faculty is highly casualized, living from one contract to the next and not having full time work,” she said.
The RNAO’s position is backing the striking faculty, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, seeing their requests as valid and reasonable. She said she understand the frustration of those on the picket line.
“If the demands were outrageous, that’s one thing, but I think what they’re asking makes complete sense from a workforce perspective,” she continued.
Among the teaching faculty demands are more full-time positions, better job secuirty and the ability to have more say in the delivery and evaluation of the courses taught. Counsellors and librarians, also a part of the bargaining unit, have similar demands.
The strike has been in place since Oct. 16 after CEC and OPSEU were unable to reach an agreement. There have been a number of back and forth offers from both parties, but the CEC called the Ontario Labour Relations Board to call a vote on its final offer. OPSEU faculty involved in the strike will be voting on the colleges’ final offer Nov. 14 at 9 a.m. until Nov. 16 at 10 a.m.