Approximately 300 municipal workers for the town of Whitby, Ontario have been on strike since Saturday, October 14, over scheduling and hours, says CUPE 53.

“The employer has made it clear that what they want is full and complete unilateral control over everyone’s scheduling, ensuring that we’re going from the gold standard to the weakest in the municipal sector in the province,” said Rob Radford, president of CUPE 53, representing the roughly 300 unit 2 members now on strike. “We tried to work with them. We proposed some trade-offs and we requested another day to bargain. The employer rejected these proposals.”

Negotiations between the employer and the workers broke down due to disagreement over concessions. The employer, says Radford, wants to force an indefinite number of temporary assignments on members; and want shift schedules where workers would be made available over a greater period of time, which could mean compressed work weeks, and rotating shifts.

“We’ve been clear that the flexibility in scheduling they’re calling for means little more than chaos for us as workers,” said Radford. “We’ve pushed back against these concessions with very reasonable counter-proposals. Instead of listening, the employer is destroying decades of successful bargaining and collaborative work in one round of negotiations by being, ironically, completely inflexible.”

“We wanted to avoid a strike so we can continue to deliver the services residents rely on.”