TORONTO - 6,800 “outside” workers in the city of Toronto commenced strike action at noon today, having failed to reach a collective agreement with their employer. The Toronto Civic Employees’ Union, Local 416 (CUPE) has been in a legal strike position since 12:01 a.m., June 24th.
“This was a strike we didn’t want,” said Brian Cochrane, president of Local 416. “We hoped it could be avoided when we extended our deadline on Sunday night and committed to working through another few days. But the intransigence of this employer has put us in the position of having to fight for our jobs. The employer’s refusal to budge on issues that are so basic, so very common to most public sector collective agreements, has brought us to this point where we’ve had to strike,” said Cochrane.
“Our members deserve a level of respect that we have not seen in this process. The City has chosen instead to declare war on its employees. They have repeatedly refused to effectively address our concerns about job security, the contracting out of public services, about basic, fundamental issues such as layoff and recall, and the role of seniority,” said Cochrane.
“This was not a strike about money, contrary to the mayor’s assertions. It’s important to know this: we accepted the City’s proposed wage increase in our last proposal to the employer,” said Cochrane.
“City Hall is determined to sell our jobs to the lowest possible bidder. We know exactly what that means for the public services you rely on – accountability, standards, and access will all plummet,” said Cochrane. Over 22% of our members would not be covered by the job security provisions in the City’s last offer, which suggested protection for those with 10 years of seniority at the beginning of the contract. Any city worker with under 10 years seniority now will never have any measure of job security under the employer’s last offer.
Local 416 represents 6,800 water and waste-water workers, sanitation workers, paramedics (EMS), parks and recreation, roads and transportation workers. Local 416 also represents an additional 2,300 library workers who are in a legal strike position on July 4th.
CUPE represents half a million working women and men in Canada, many of whom work in the municipal, health care, and university sectors.
For further information: Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications, (416) 738-4329