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More than 1,300 University of Ottawa support staff begin strike

The University of Ottawa has reached a tentative deal with striking support staff.
The University of Ottawa has reached a tentative deal with striking support staff. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Support staff at the University of Ottawa are officially on strike as of Monday morning after collective bargaining attempts hit an impasse.

More than 1,300 members of the University of Ottawa support staff bargaining unit (PSUO-SSUO) started a legal strike at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 19, according to a release from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

The employer and the union representing support staff at the university could not reach a tentative agreement after 19 months of bargaining.

The PSUO-SSUO bargaining unit received a “final offer” from the university on Thursday, Oct. 15, according to the union, which the team considered “unacceptable.” Leadership said in a recent online post that the latest offer was considered too similar to a previous offer from the university, which was “soundly rejected” by 80 per cent of more than 1,000 voting members in June.

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Among the outstanding issues in that offer were reductions in reimbursements for medication coverage, cuts to retirement allowance and cuts to the top-up for parental leaves, the union said at the time.

The university, meanwhile, believes its updated offer included “significant improvements.”

In a statement posted to the uOttawa website on Monday, associate vice-president of human resources Karina Adam said the latest offer included a modified coinsurance plan, the maximum wage increase allowable under provincial legislation, improvements to job security, and upgrades to benefits such as private hospital room coverage and increased psychological services.

“We hope that your union will take the time to explain these changes to you and seriously consider the significant improvements that have been made in this offer so we can end this strike,” Adam said to uOttawa support staff in a statement.

Union leadership said in June that it will continue pressing the university on issues such as a safe return to the workplace in the pandemic, filling vacant positions and making working from home a more sustainable alternative.

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