The provincial government is getting the two sides in the college teachers' strike back to the bargaining table.

The Ministry of Labour mediator has asked the two sides to resume talks on Thursday.

About 12,000 teachers, including more than 700 at Northern Ontario's five colleges, have been on the picket lines since October 16. There have been no talks since the strike began.

“This strike has gone on for too long,” said Sonia Del Missier, chair of the colleges' bargaining team, in a statement released on Wednesday.

“We need to end the strike and get our students and faculty back in the classroom. We can reach a settlement quickly and have classes start again early next week. We will focus our efforts at the table and work very hard to reach a deal that ends the strike."

The strike has meant classes have been cancelled for thousands of students.

The last contract offer was 7.75 per cent wage increase over four years, but another main issue in dispute is the ratio of full-time versus part time faculty positions.

The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which represents the striking workers, didn't have an immediate response, but had scheduled a rally for Thursday to call on the colleges to return to the bargaining table.

with files from The Canadian Press