TORONTO – Municipal workers are more determined than ever to hang on to their employment security at the bargaining table, now that the City of Toronto is headed towards privatizing 28 city services, says Ann Dembinski, the leader of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79.
“While we are at the bargaining table, desperately trying to prevent the privatization of city services, they are waving a red flag,” says Dembinski. “Our employment security language is by no means perfect, but it does protect many of the city’s dedicated workers.”
The City of Toronto released a report yesterday (Thursday) about alternative service delivery, a new catch-phrase for contracting out and privatization. The report identifies four city services that it recommends city council approve for alternative service delivery this year. It identifies 24 additional services as candidates for alternative service delivery by 2004.
“A lot of this appears to be change for change’s sake,” says Dembinski. “A short time ago city hall centralized the purchasing department to save money. Now the recommendation is to decentralize it. Go figure!”
CUPE is also concerned that the city has not consulted the public about the privatization of services. “We have been trying to warn everyone that there is an agenda to privatize city services and here is the evidence. Toronto residents do not want their services delivered by for-profit operators,” says Dembinski. “They know that they will end up paying more in user fees and higher rates – and they will be getting inferior services. We want city hall to listen to these concerns.
CUPE Local 79 and the City of Toronto are in the conciliation process of collective bargaining. At any time during conciliation, either party can ask the government-appointed conciliation officer to file a “no board” report. At that time the clock starts clicking towards a strike or lockout deadline.
For more information contact:
Shannon McManus , CUPE Communications