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Frustrated by the snail’s pace of negotiations, University of Sherbrooke support staff are holding a 72-hour strike from 5 p.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Monday. Union representatives warn of more pressure tactics if no significant progress is made at Monday’s bargaining session.

About 1,300 employees have had no contract for nearly 32 months; for 120 research staff, it has been 62 months. Since July 5, they have held two 24-hour strikes and one 60-hour strike. Despite the escalating pressure and numerous warnings about the impending fall term, the employer has kept wage offers well below the inflation rate.

In recent weeks we have stressed that management cannot procrastinate beyond the start of the fall term and that we refuse to be paid less than support staff at other Quebec universities. Management has turned a deaf ear. So we will continue our actions towards reaching a settlement as quickly as possible,” said Stéphane Caron, president of SEESUS-SCFP 7498, the union representing University support staff.

Our employer came to the August 22 bargaining session virtually empty-handed. They then informed us that they would use the August 29 session to explain an offer we have already rejected. It’s one thing to want to slow the process, but time has run out. At 5 p.m. Monday, we will be looking at either an agreement, or another strike,” Stéphane Caron went on to say.

As of late Friday afternoon, picketers will be at the southwest corner of University Boulevard and Ste-Catherine Street. More strikers will be demonstrating at the Longueuil campus.

In October 2010, 88 percent of the 1,400-plus SEESUS members decided in favour of pressure tactics, even if that meant striking. Most have had no contract since December 31, 2008; research support staff have been without one since June 26, 2006.