Efforts to reach a contract deal between University of Manitoba Security Services (UMSS) and the University of Manitoba stalled Friday, resulting in the university initiating a lockout.
According to John Urkevich, from the Association of Employees Supporting Education Services (AESES), representatives of the university walked away from the bargaining table at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
This caught AESES off guard, as they were under the impression that the university was ready to sit down to hammer out a deal. “We were prepared to [negotiate] all weekend,” said Urkevich.
John Danakas, the university’s director of public affairs, confirmed that negotiations had been put on hold.
The lockout means that the university’s 27 security services employees will be barred from the campus as of 7 p.m. Friday, not permitted to report to work and will not be getting paid.
Urkevich said that people going to the university on Monday can expect to see UMSS staff on the picket line.
According to Urkevich, one of the main points currently holding the negotiations back is the minimum staffing clause. Currently a minimum of three security officers must be stationed at the Fort Garry campus at all times and two at the Bannatyne campus. UMSS would like to see that number increased to four and three respectively, both for the safety of students and for officers responding to calls.
UMSU President Heather Laube issued a statement Friday, in it she said that:
“Students are upset that the University has chosen to try and push through cuts to security staffing, particularly since they have chosen to do so immediately prior to the Fall semester,”
In terms of how students are feeling about the lockout, Laube said:
“While almost every aspect of the student’s experience will be affected, students are worried that a lockout by the University will put them at greater risk. We understand the provincial government and University want to cut their budgets, but that burden should not be placed on students and the public-sector workers that keep us safe.”
UMSS has been in negotiations with the university over their collective agreement since August 2009.
With notes from Sarah Petz