Information for Students

What happens to students if there is a work stoppage?

First and foremost, we remain optimistic that a deal can be reached at the bargaining table.

Athabasca University is a learner-first institution. This will continue to be true, even in the event of a work stoppage. Every effort will be made to ensure that impacts on students are minimized, and where we cannot avoid impacts, we will set out a plan to mitigate these impacts. We also commit to communicating with you about any potential impacts as soon as possible if needed.

Will I be able to graduate?

It’s studies as usual and when requirements are met, students can apply to graduate. Athabasca University approves and awards credentials every month. To be considered for graduation, you must submit an Application for Graduation form to the Office of the Registrar.

Plans are already underway for AU’s convocation ceremonies held every year in Athabasca, Alberta during the second weekend in June. To qualify, applications for graduation must be submitted by April 30, and all requirements must be met by the end of the first week in May. For information regarding your application status please contact the Office of the Registrar by emailing grad-app@athabascau.ca or at 1-800-788-9041 ext. 6382.

For information regarding Convocation please contact the Events Office, at 1-800-788-9041, extension 6234 or go to Convocation.

Will I be able to access student services if there is a work stoppage, including financial and mental health services?

AU will continue to communicate with students and work to mitigate any impacts if there is a work stoppage. If any changes to services available to students are necessary, we will let you know as soon as possible.

Information on the Bargaining Process and Essential Services

What is the bargaining process?

Collective bargaining is a process in which a union and an employer negotiate a collective agreement. A collective agreement is a written contract between the employer and a union that outlines many of the terms and conditions of employment for employees in a bargaining unit.

Collective bargaining usually results in an agreement acceptable to the union and employer that is reached through negotiations at the bargaining table. If, during negotiations, the employer and the union cannot reach agreement, either the employer or union may ask the Alberta Government’s Mediation Services to appoint a mediator.

The mediator works with the parties to help them reach a collective agreement.  The mediator can also issue a recommendation for settlement which, if accepted by the parties, forms the basis of a collective agreement. If not accepted, the parties can continue negotiations. The legislation at this point also provides for a 14-day cooling off period. After the 14-day cooling off period, a strike vote can occur and if the majority of those who vote support a strike, the union must then serve the employer and mediator with notice to strike at least 72 hours in advance of any proposed action. The strike vote is effective for 120 days.

For more information, please see the Bargaining FAQ.

What is an Essential Service?

The Labour Relations Code identifies certain public services as being “essential”. Essential services are those public services that would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the public if interrupted. Essential services may also be those services that are necessary to the maintenance and administration of the rule of law and public security.

The legislation identifies areas where services may be essential, including the Provincial Public Service; provincial agencies, boards, and commissions; public health care (including ground ambulance); continuing care, medical laboratories, and blood services; and post-secondary faculty and support staff. In each of these areas, the organization and the relevant union need to determine under what circumstances and for what services an interruption would endanger lives or the rule of law and public safety. This generally involves the negotiation of an agreement called an “Essential Services Agreement”.

As the University falls into the Essential Services regime, the University and AUFA can only have a mediator appointed to assist with bargaining if one of the following requirements is met:

  • The parties have an essential services agreement that has been accepted for filing;
  • The parties have been granted an exemption;
  • The Essential Services Commissioner has made a declaration that the provision of essential services during a strike or lockout will substantially interfere with meaningful collecting bargaining; or
  • The Essential Services Commissioner has consented to a mediator being appointed without a filed essential services agreement.