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Classes suspended, convocation could be disrupted as strike hits Capilano University

Summer semester classes at Capilano University in North Vancouver were suddenly suspended Tuesday morning after more than 300 administrative staff members walked off the job.

The union representing the workers rejected the employers' last contract offer, which included a 12 to 13 per cent pay increase, because it didn’t include language Move Up Local 378 had requested around remote and hybrid work, which has existed at Cap U since 2020.

“They can come to us any time and say we are pulling everybody back to work, and everybody’s life gets turned around again just like at the start of the pandemic,” said union spokesperson Christy Slusarenko.

The university said it was one of the first post-secondary institutions to develop a hybrid work program, and it’s committed to keeping it. But the union wants it in writing, and wants members to be able to grieve work-from-home decisions made by managers, with a resolution handled by a third party.

In a statement, Capilano University said that is " inconsistent with the common approach and has the potential to compromise service delivery.”

“They have said unless we don’t materially revise our stance on the work from home language, then they’re not interested in coming to the table,” said Slusarenko.

The union issued a 72-hour strike notice on Friday and began job action Tuesday morning, with a picket line and large rally on campus.

“The faculty union, they’re out joining us as well they have shut down their classes for us,” said Slusarenko.

That meant students were on their way to Cap U or already on campus when they got an email saying classes had been suspended.

“When we were on the bus we opened Outlook and it said today there is a strike and you don’t have to come to Capilano University and classes are cancelled, so we were surprised and quite shocked,” said business student Jaideep Nagra.

“It is okay for one or two days, but if this continues for a week or two weeks, then it’s totally difficult,” said fellow business student Harpreet Singh, who added final exams are scheduled for late June. “If we cannot attend classes, then we will not be able to take the exam, then we will not get our credits.”

It’s not just summer semester students who will be impacted by the strike action. On Wednesday, Capilano University begins three days of convocation ceremonies for graduating students. The union says unless a deal is reached quickly, the picket line will be there.

“We will be letting them through, but it will be a disruption I’m sure,” said Slusarenko.

The union is making no apologies for disrupting convocation and classes, in search of a better contract that cements work-from-home guidelines.

“Unfortunately, they’ve left us with no choice,” said Slusarenko. “When we are backed into corner and we know something is this important to our membership, we are going to continue to fight for it.” Top Stories

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