TORONTO - The City of Toronto abandoned negotiations today after the union representing municipal outside employees rejected demands the City have ‘carte blanche’ to gut the collective agreement and cut workers who provide the vital services Toronto depends on.
“We’re not surprised,” said Mark Ferguson, President of the Toronto Civic Employees Union (TCEU), Local 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 416).
After serving notice it intended to replace full-time staff with unskilled, part-time workers across all City divisions, including Emergency Medical Services, City negotiators refused to allow the Local 416 bargaining committee to offer counter-proposals, opting instead to file for conciliation with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
During collective bargaining, a request for conciliation is a necessary trigger for either side to declare an impasse, setting the stage for a labour disruption.
“We requested a third-party mediator weeks ago, in order to move bargaining forward without a conciliator being appointed. The City flatly rejected this request,” said Ferguson.
CUPE 416 and the City had held several days of negotiations over the past few weeks that Ferguson described as “tough, but productive.”
“We have been and remain ready to bargain, but the city’s approach has been to use the process in an effort to provoke Local 416 and our members into a reaction. Let me be perfectly clear. Our members understand what is at stake for our community and we will not be provoked,” he added.
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CUPE 416 President