The timing was chosen by Teaching Assistants (TAs) in declaring a strike is very crucial, especially at a time when the exams are due and McGill is duty-bound to conduct them peacefully without any disruption in view of the future of several students being at stake. The TAs, after their meeting held on April 7 2008 realize the importance of confronting the management with their grievances at such an opportune time since there will be no alternative for McGill in view of the conflicting interpretations of the Quebec Labor Code. Conducting lab exercises is an essential part of the curriculum and legally other functionaries are not eligible to oversee such functions. In the unlikely event of the authorities imposing restrictions on McGill to complete the exam, there will be drastic consequences in terms of the future of students being jeopardized due to inaction on its part. There are several Ph.D. students who survive on earnings received from teaching jobs at McGill and they will have a difficult time in making both ends meet in view of penal action imposed on them for being part of the TA Union.
The immediate solution to the imbroglio is for McGill to initiate immediate action in pacifying the TA Union into resuming duties with a promise to discuss their grievances on a positive note so that exams are not disturbed and the future of students is not put at stake. McGill is morally responsible for any untoward consequences in this regard and hence should take immediate remedial action. The TA Union has a genuine grievance is seeking a raise in their hourly pay rates and if not $5 to $6, McGill can sit on the negotiating table with them and work out a raise of about $3 to $4 for them. This action will instill a sense of gratitude in them and put a reversal to the trend of negative developments that have started to happen. Ph.D. students doing part-time teaching will be happy again and there will be no negative incidents such as the complications arising due to the visit of Labor Department investigator Thomas Hayden. There will be no issues raised by any party about the interpretation of the Quebec Labor Code and work will go on smoothly. Long-term issues can be discussed at length in a scheduled manner at regular intervals with the involvement of the university authorities.
Labor-management relations are turbulent in almost every scenario and are a constant at any given time and have to be regularly addressed by both parties to maintain a cordial working environment in the workplace. The present scenario has certainly created a tense environment and after the solution of current issues raised by the TA Union, McGill along with the university management has to be cautious in avoiding recurrence of such eventualities so as to keep up with the good reputation that McGill enjoys in the field of academics. It has to keep up with the confidence level that it enjoys with students and hence must stay away from controversies. Sure McGill has burnt its fingers and lost a lot in terms of reputation and in the future will be very careful in allowing such situations to arise amongst its workers. It will find ways and means to nip the problem in the bud the moment there are any signs of such a flare-up. The TA Union will realize the importance of its negotiating strength and will confidently fight for its rights on a regular basis.