11/19/2017 14:06 EST | Updated 11/20/2017 07:14 EST

5-Week Ontario College Strike To End After Back-To-Work Bill Passes

Students will back in classes on Tuesday.

Teachers and faculty staff of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union walk the picket line at George Brown College in Toronto on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

TORONTO — College faculty in Ontario head back to their schools today, after a five-week strike was ended over the weekend with back-to-work legislation.

The 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians who had been on strike since Oct. 15 will return to work today to prepare for students' return on Tuesday.

Colleges are extending their semesters so students don't lose their terms, but student advocates say trying to condense five missed weeks into roughly two extra ones will be very stressful.


They are pushing for students who feel they won't be able to complete their semesters to be allowed to withdraw and receive refunds.

The provincial government has ordered the colleges to create a fund using savings from the strike to help students who may be experiencing financial hardship because of the labour dispute.

The Liberal government first tried to introduce and pass the back-to-work legislation in one fell swoop on Thursday night after talks stalled again, but the NDP said due diligence was needed.

Toronto Star via Getty Images
Striking teachers at George Brown College make their way along King St.

The NDP forced the legislature to sit through the weekend to debate the bill, ultimately passing it on Sunday.

The legislation sends all outstanding issues to binding mediation-arbitration.

Toronto Star via Getty Images
An instructor is dressed up as a Yeti while she walks the picket line at the East York Centennial College campus.

The colleges have said their final offer included a 7.75 per cent salary increase over four years, improved benefits and measures to address concerns regarding part-time faculty, with language surrounding academic freedom remaining as the only major outstanding issue.

But the union said the offer contained "serious concessions'' that were not agreed to, which would erode faculty rights.

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