Ten months and two days of labour board-mediated talks later, city staffers in a small rural Ontario township will return to work.
In Bonfield, Ont. — a town of about 2,000 — the bitter strike that began last summer and saw Mayor Randall McLaren and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) butting heads has come to an end.
While details of the tentative agreement — which was ratified by the union on June 5 — are still forthcoming, of note is that the five employees fired over the course of the job action were reinstated.
Those employees were initially let go, according to McLaren, because they tried to prevent two local councillors from attending a meeting on how to get city services back up and running (such as recycling, by-law enforcement and road maintenance), which were suspended during the strike.
During negotiations, CUPE raised concerns pertaining to provisions such as seniority, training, employment security, employment security, scheduling, vacation, sick leave and benefits.
“We worked really hard to reach a deal that both we and the township can live with. Ultimately, we were able to push all the major concessions off the table,” said Diane Francouer, a spokesperson for the local union chapter, adding that, “from the beginning, this was a defensive strike.”
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