Saturday, January 30, 2016

Strike or Lockout Possible for 26,000 Municipal Employees in Toronto

More than 26,000 Toronto municipal workers could be locked out or on strike next month after negotiations between the city and two unions failed to show progress.

The city asked for a “no board report” from the provincial Ministry of Labour on Friday after failing to reach an agreement with CUPE Local 416, a union that represents 6,000 outdoor workers, including garbage collectors and water and parks staff.

If approved by the ministry, a no-board report allows either side to initiate a labour disruption after 17 days.

A legal strike or lockout could take place as early as Feb. 20, Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong said Friday.

“We’re hopeful to get a deal,” he said. “That’s what we’re working towards and that’s why we fought for the no board. We’re not satisfied with the progress that’s been taking place to date.”

Just hours after the city’s announcement, CUPE Local 79, the inside workers’ union, also filed a no board request. This union has more than 20,000 members, including public health workers and workers in city-run daycares, recreation and community centres.

“It’s clear that the city isn’t negotiating,” said Local 79 president Tim Maguire. “We’ve been negotiating since October and the same deep cuts remain at the table.”

Bargaining between the city and unions began Oct. 16 and their contracts expired Dec. 31. The city requested a conciliator to assist in the negotiations in late December, while CUPE 79 asked for one this month. All three parties said they are at a standstill, however.

“As a result of the city’s actions, we are very far apart in our positions,” said Matt Alloway, a spokesperson for Local 416. “We need the city to engage us in meaningful dialogue so we can reach a fair deal that supports and protects the services that the city needs.”

Workers in both unions have voted for strike mandates.

A press release said the city has a contingency plan in place to “address operation of key city services in event of labour disruption,” but did not go into details.

An update on the City of Toronto website assures that the TTC, police and fire services, long-term care homes, the Toronto Public Library and Toronto community housing properties would not be affected by the strike or lockout.

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