Student groups across Ontario urging colleges, union to return to bargaining table


College student groups from across Ontario are calling for contract talks to resume.

More than a dozen student associations have come together to send an open letter to keep bargaining going in good faith to keep colleges open.

Talks broke off when OPSEU rejected the college employer council's latest contract offer.

St. Clair College student representative council president Shubham Sharma says, with COVID-19 disruptions, it's been a tough couple of years for students.

"We are staying neutral. All the college student associations are staying neutral in this bargaining. We just don't want to get caught up in between because we just want to study and graduate. We don't want to get into all these things."

He says students are growing fearful of a strike.

"The fear is just we don't want the 2017 strike to repeat for five weeks," he continued. "That is why we sent out a letter immediately so that the union as well as the college administration is aware of it."

Sharma says the return to in-person learning is going well and he'd hate to see students have to take a step backward.

"Right now, everything is stable. To be very honest, our college admin team has done a great job, but we just wanted to take action. All the student associations, we had to reach out to them and tell them please don't repeat like the 2017 strike which happened, which was not good," Sharma said.

If a faculty strike were to take place, more than 240,000 post-secondary students would be directly affected.

There's no word yet as to when parties may return to the bargaining table.