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VANCOUVER In response to the failure of UBC administration to schedule bargaining dates in December, the union representing teaching assistants served the mandatory 72-hour strike notice yesterday.

The 1,600 members in CUPE Local 2278 will be in a legal strike position at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.

CUPE local president Alex Grant says members are frustrated by the employer’s stalling tactics and insulted by its offer.

UBC administration wants the teaching assistants to accept a three-year wage freeze and no protection against tuition fee increases. It also wants to eliminate its health coverage payments.

UBC is one of the richest universities in the country, yet it has decided to play hard ball with the poorest group of workers on campus, says Grant.

The university had a policy of rebating 50% of any tuition fee increases to teaching assistants. This fall, however, when tuition fees rose for the first time in a decade, the university refused to renew the policy. The tuition hike of about $500 a year represents a 16% pay cut over three years for teaching assistants.

UBC teaching assistants, who only make about $9,000 a year, are paid about $2.50 less an hour than SFU and at least $7 less an hour than their counterparts at the University of Toronto.

The employer has applied for mediation.

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For more information, call Alex at: (604) 916-2117