Media reports about City of Toronto street sweepers spewing dust and debris into the air are a dramatic example of how cutbacks harm communities, the Vice-President of Local 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 416) said today.
“We’re not surprised and we’ve warned for years that cutting back on maintenance puts equipment and people at risk,” said CUPE 416 Vice-President Dave Hewitt. CUPE 416 represents City of Toronto outside workers.
“It was bad enough to cut back on mechanical maintenance for machinery, but that has also been compounded by a cutback to the number of times streets are swept, meaning the machinery is working harder to pick up more when it does go out,” he added.
Hewitt was responding to published reports which appeared earlier this week showing the city’s 50 state-of-the-art street sweepers, purchased in 2007, are so rundown that they aren’t able to perform the tasks they were purchased for.
“Not only have our mechanics had to deal with poorly-fitting aftermarket parts and reduced maintenance budgets, our operators are forced to try and operate machines that can’t keep up with the strain. The machines weren’t designed to be run into the ground this way. It’s a classic example of being penny-wise, pound-foolish,” he said.
Hewitt said the union is calling on the city to provide their mechanics with the proper, factory-original parts for the sweepers, and to ensure budgets for maintenance reflect actual equipment needs.
“The city also needs to ensure that critical functions like street-sweeping are done at regular intervals, rather than being cut to bare minimum levels like they have over the past four years,” he added.
For more information, please contact:
Dave Hewitt, CUPE 416 Vice-President, 416-968-7721
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641