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Student demonstrations continue | Media blackout on negotiations

Students at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton raised their voices again in a protest on Tuesday morning to demand that the university and the AUNBT make an agreement at the negotiating table.

This came after the provincial government ordered the university administration and the AUNBT on Monday to resume negotiations with an appointed mediator.

“Today’s [protest] was to show both sides that we expect results,” said Greg Bailey, vice-president external of the UNB Student Union. “Two weeks with no negotiations is completely unacceptable and if they’re being forced back to the table then they better get something done.”

The government’s action was a result of the Student Union’s protest last Friday and UNBSU president Ben Whitney said he wanted to keep the momentum going.

“We had folks who just really wanted to get out again and show both sides how serious we are, and I think today it’s about [both parties] getting in there, being serious and bargaining hard and actually getting something out of this,” Whitney said.

This protest didn’t have the same turnout as the one last Friday – about 40 students showed up with signs to tell both sides that they expect results.

“I think we’ve seen that [both sides] are starting to recognize students are [annoyed] and unhappy with what’s going on here right now and hopefully something happens soon so we can get back to class,” said student Gareth Cockwell.

“This is keeping the pressure on, keeping the temperature high and showing that the stakes are there. We know what’s going on.”

The protestors made stops at UNB’s Sir Howard Douglas Hall, the AUNBT strike headquarters and each of the picket lines. While UNB administration did not make an appearance, members of the AUNBT met students outside their headquarters.

Because a media blackout was instated yesterday due to the negotiations, the AUNBT could not give the students any information.

The negotiations will occur over Wednesday and Thursday and until they are complete there will be no information presented publicly from both sides.

“I think it’s pretty standard procedure. We’ve seen a lot of stuff coming from both sides and the point of the media blackout is to put them in a room and just get them to do some work without going back and telling everyone what the other side’s saying,” Bailey said.

The UNBSU is waiting for the results from the negotiations to plan their next move. If a deal is not reached, Bailey said the next step is to speak with the government.

“I think this week is going to show a lot about how the admin and the faculty are willing to make a deal. We may get a deal and we might be back in class by next week. Or we may not,” Bailey said.

“In that case, the Student Union is not going to have much of a choice but to talk to the government and ask them what else they can do.”

The Student Union is hoping this won’t happen though.

“Really it’s just depending on how things go. The ideal definitely is to be back in class on Monday,” Whitney said.

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