A day after a Memorial University nursing student said she and her classmates fear they won’t graduate on time, amid a labour dispute between faculty and administration, the university said clinical placements will resume next week.
Fourth-year nursing students had their work-term placements come to a halt when members of MUN’s faculty association walked off the job Monday.
Those students — 69 in total, according to the university — need to complete their work terms to graduate on time in May. Many, according to student Madison Bailey, already have jobs lined up upon graduating.
In a media release Thursday, MUN said clinical placements that were suspended when the strike began will resume Monday with supervision by administrative leadership and the already assigned per-course instructors, who aren’t affected by the strike.
“We have been constantly monitoring the potential impact of pausing this clinical placement,” said Neil Bose, interim provost and academic vice-president, in the release.
“As we approach the end of the first week of strike action by MUNFA, we have determined we will provide supervision to these students by non-union academic leadership. This is necessary in order to ensure that there is no further risk of a delay in providing nursing resources to the province’s health-care system.”
Ash Hossain, president of Memorial University’s faculty association, said there are still some sticking points his union and its members are pushing for — one of which is job security for contract employees.
“Weirdly enough you can work as a contracted member at MUN for 10, 20 or 30 years and still have no job security, no conversion to full time,” he said. “A lot of our members are like that.”
But among the union’s biggest demands is having a seat on the university’s board of regents. The board makes decisions on property, revenue, business and other affairs, such as the appointment of the university’s president.
But that move requires work at the provincial government level and an amendment to legislation to allow the faculty association to have a seat on the board.
Premier Andrew Furey said it’s something his government “would commit to” but the amendment won’t be an overnight solution.
In a media release Wednesday night, the faculty association said it welcomes Furey’s comments.
But, the union continued, while MUN raised the prospect of being open to a faculty seat on the board “it misses the essence of collegial governance.”
“Inclusion in academic decision-making requires a commitment from the university’s administration and cannot simply be resolved with a legislative change from the province — and given the administration’s response to MUNFA’s requests at the bargaining table, there is no evidence that this commitment is forthcoming,” the media release reads.
Hossain said Furey’s comments are a good starting point but there’s still a piece that’s missing.
“Part of our collegial governance package was to insert a definition of collegial governance in the collective agreement, which administration said no to,” he said.
“We are still waiting to hear from them. They have to be able to move on major issues for us to come back and sit and talk.”
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