With the premier out of the province for the next two days, the clock continues to tick down on a Nova Scotia Community College workers strike with no signs of the stalemate breaking.

In fact, it’s hard to say whose court the ball is even in.

Late Thursday, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, which is representing the 930 faculty and support staff in a legal strike position, offered to enter binding arbitration. Otherwise they’ll go on strike Oct. 20.

But Premier Darrell Dexter reiterated yesterday the province will only enter arbitration on its terms.

“The financial parameters of the province, the difficulties this province faces, have to be a part of the consideration for any arbitration,” he said.

Dexter said the province’s $592-million deficit is the biggest factor and any arbitration ruling would have to be made in light of that problem.

Things seem to have stalled there. Union president Alexis Allen said she doesn’t know if the union can agree to his terms because the premier hasn’t told them specifically what they are.

Meanwhile, Dexter said he’s been clear on his position and is waiting on the union.

Dexter also left for Toronto last night to speak at the Empire Club tomorrow. He’ll be back in the province by Friday but said it’s still possible for a deal to be reached while he is away.

With 45 contracts due to be renewed by the end of the year, other unions will be watching closely to see what happens with the province’s 930 community college workers.

The dispute mainly comes down to teachers wanting a 2.9 per cent raise to keep them in line with their public school colleagues. The province says it can only afford a one per cent increase.

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