York University contract professor Dhruv Jain came to the legislature yes­t­erday to watch the Ontario government introduce back-to-work legislation that will force him to return to the classroom.

Jain, 25, teaches one full course, the introduction of African studies, and makes $14,000 a year and lives under the poverty line.

“My parents throw in a little bit but they don’t have a lot of money. Their store is not doing very well,” he said after the provincial New Democratic Party refused to support back-to-work legislation introduced by the Ontario government yesterday in a rare Sunday sitting of the legislature.

Jain feels as though the “academic integrity” of York is shot because the administration failed to work with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903, and come up with a settlement.

“You are basically forcing 3,300 people to go back into a classroom they do not want to be in, not because they don’t want to teach their students but because of the way this labour conflict has been resolved,” he said.

Outside on the front lawn of Queen’s Park, hundreds of protesters braved the cold weather yesterday, waving signs and loudly jeering as Premier Dalton McGuinty and MPPs inside listened to the introduction of Bill 145, an act to resolve labour disputes between York University and CUPE 3903.

But without unanimous all-party support, MPPs now must hold a debate. If the debate is finished tomorrow, students could be back at school on Thursday. If finished on Wednesday, Friday would be the start of classes, said a York University spokesperson.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton said his party refuses to be part of what he called a “manipulative process” led by McGuinty’s government. “We will insist on a full debate,” he said.

The strike shut down the York campus on Nov. 6, when 3,300 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job.

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