09/16/2011 12:08 EDT | Updated 11/16/2011 05:12 EST

Ontario colleges set to return to bargaining table

The bargaining team for Ontario's colleges and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) are set to return to the bargaining table over the weekend in a bid to end a 16-day strike at the province's community colleges.

Support staff for Ontario's 24 colleges has been walking the picket lines since Sept. 1.

"Our goal has always been to reach a negotiated settlement. We hope that OPSEU is prepared to do the same," Gerry Barker, chairman of the colleges' bargaining team, said in a release.

OPSEU represents about 8,000 support workers at the province's colleges who help with registration, student loans, disability support and food preparation, among other services.

Bargaining began in June, but the two sides can't agree on wage increases. The college's wish to extend the probationary period for new hires from six months to one year is also a sticking point.

The union wants a three per cent annual wage increase while the colleges are offering 1.5 per cent in each of the first two years, and 1.75 per cent in the third year.