Labour briefs

Unions react to recent armoured car robbery / Transit strike averted in Thunder Bay, Ont. / Almost 40,000 job vacancies lost in October
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/03/2014

Unions react to recent armoured car robbery

OTTAWA — Unifor is calling for a meeting with Canada’s public safety minister Steven Blaney in the wake of a recent armoured car robbery in Toronto.

An armoured car crew was robbed at gunpoint on Jan. 20, just outside Toronto’s Fairview Mall. A bullet hole was reportedly found in one of the armoured car’s windows in addition to shell casings and bags of cash scattered on the ground outside the vehicle.

"In light of the recent robbery of a two-person crew… you will appreciate my urgency in setting up this meeting with you," Unifor national president Jerry Dias wrote in a letter to Blaney.

Dias is calling for a task force on the armoured car industry to carry out comprehensive policy research and develop recommendations and legislative guidance.

He is also calling on the minister to meet with the union as Unifor represents 2,000 workers in the armoured car industry.

Another union is urging patience.

"The safety of this industry’s workers is an issue we’ve been working on it for a while now," said Teamsters Canada Armoured Car director Jim Chalmers in a statement. "But I think it’s better to wait for the results of the police investigation before drawing hasty conclusions."

Chalmers said the Teamsters Union has been working with Blaney and his staff for some time in an effort to identify and resolve safety issues in the armoured car industry.

"We’re going to continue our close collaboration to improve the safety of our members and, of course, the general public," he said. "In the meantime, we’re going to provide support to our two members who were involved in the exchange of gunfire."

The Teamsters Union represents close to 2,000 workers in the armoured car industry.

Transit strike averted in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — The wheels on the bus will continue going round and round in Thunder Bay, Ont., after transit drivers reached a deal with the city.

On Jan. 19, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 966 reached a tentative deal with the City of Thunder Bay, narrowly avoiding a strike. Transit workers would have been in a legal position to walk off the job the very next day.

"The deal was achieved through a lot of patience and negotiation. We had a marathon situation on our hands," said Sheila Kivisto, president of the local ATU chapter. "We were at the bargaining table for 28 hours straight. We did it for our riders."

The union will now turn its attention to collective bargaining for city staff operating Lift Plus — the specialized door-to-door transit system the town acquired this year.

Almost 40,000 job openings lost in October: StatsCan
Canada lost almost 40,000 job vacancies in October, according to numbers recently released from Statistics Canada.

In October 2013, there were 231,000 job openings across Canadian businesses — a decline of 37,000 compared to October of 2012.

For every job vacancy, there were 5.7 unemployed people, whereas in the previous year, there were only 5.1 unemployed people per job opening. The drop in vacancies declined at a faster pace than the decline in the number of unemployed people, the Statistics Canada report noted.

The national job vacancy rate at the end of October 2013 was 1.6 per cent, down from 1.8 per cent in 2012.