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After another day of inconclusive talks, the union representing University of Sherbrooke support staff has decided to extend the general strike in 24-hour increments. The first extension immediately follows the 72-hour strike that ended on August 29 at 5 P.M. According to the union’s bargaining committee, today’s offer from management was not sufficiently concrete or reasonable. The committee said that time has run out and pressure tactics will continue until significant progress is made towards an agreement acceptable to the two parties.

“Unfortunately, our employer has not yet budged enough on the main issue, namely, wage increases on a par with inflation that would bring us into line with other Quebec universities. It needs to pick up the pace: the school year is nearly upon us. Our 1,400 members are determined to continue striking until concrete, reasonable offers are within sight,” said Stéphane Caron, president of SEESUS-SCFP 7498, the union representing University support staff.

The next bargaining session is set for September 6. Meanwhile, union representatives will be available for direct talks with the University.

About 1,300 support staff have had no contract for nearly 32 months; for 120 research staff, it has been 62 months. Earlier this summer, they held two 24-hour strikes and one 60-hour strike. Despite the escalating pressure, the employer has kept wage offers well below the inflation rate.

On Wednesday, August 31, from noon onward, five unions representing University employees will hold a major demonstration at both the main and the Longueuil campuses as a show of solidarity. SEESUS (support and research personnel), APAPUS (professionals and research professionals), SCCCUS (lecturers), SPPUS (professors) and AIPSA (engineering lecturers and professors) have joined forces to press the administration to reach negotiated agreements that provide competitive working conditions to all University employees.

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 a contract since June 26, 2006.