Strike deadline approaches in Toronto

City Hall provides contingency plan ahead of Feb. 19 deadline
||Last Updated: 02/18/2016

A strike looms large in Toronto, where municipal workers could walk off the job as early as this weekend.

CUPE 416, which represents about 6,000 outside workers, will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, while CUPE 76, which represents about 20,000 inside workers, will be able to walk off the job on Saturday.

Both the unions and Mayor John Tory have said there is a real possibility of a labour disruption.

Last week, City Hall released a contingency plan should workers go on strike, which includes limited services for waste collection, snow removal and emergency services, with city-operated child care centres shut down entirely.

“The city remains committed to negotiating new collective agreements that are fair and reasonable to employees and residents and that allow the city to respond effectively to the needs of Toronto residents and businesses,” it said in a statement.

Tory also said the current offer was a reasonable one.

But according to the unions, the city has made little effort at the bargaining table.

“Despite repeatedly being told that concessions are unacceptable, the city still has major cuts and takeaways on the table. We are working to push them back. We have made it clear that we are not bargaining concessions,” Local 416 said in a statement.

Of particular concern for Local 79 is that half of workers are stuck in part-time, temporary or seasonal positions, which has led to instability.

“The city has shown no movement on issues of stability,” said Tim Maguire, Local 79’s president. “This leaves too many frontline workers sitting by the phone to find out when they work next, too many workers worried they won’t have a job in six months, and too many frontline workers stuck in part-time and temporary positions with no access to full-time positions.”

The last major strike in the city was for 36 days in the summer of 2009, which saw garbage pile up and camps and pools shut down.

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