Toronto An historic strike by 20,000 City of Toronto inside workers was called at 9:00 pm on Thursday, March 30, 2000. Picket lines will be up by 6:00 am on Friday, March 31st.
“We cannot continue to work with the differences in wages and benefits between people doing the same work in the City of Toronto,” says Anne Dubas, the President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79. “For 14 months we have tried to negotiate an end to differences in working conditions. We can no longer tolerate long-time employees being paid thousands of dollars less than fellow workers doing the same work. We cannot continue to allow our part-time and temporary workers being used as a cheap labour force.”
This is the first round of bargaining for the inside workers since the Toronto “megacity” was created. The Union and the City had to merge 24 collective agreements from the six former municipalities and Metro into four contracts. “We could have reached an agreement,” says Dubas. “We accommodated the employer on most issues before we reached a final impasse. The City is unwilling to send to arbitration outstanding issues, including internal wage harmonization and pay equity, employment security, layoff and recall, hours of work, scheduling for casual and part-time workers, and benefits.”
“We offered Mayor Mel Lastman and the Citys negotiating team a way to avoid a strike. We agreed to send the outstanding issues to arbitration, under the Labour Relations Act (Section 40) by a neutral third party. The City said “No”.
“Our strike is about equity and respect,” added Dubas. “We agreed to the Citys wage offer of 2.0, 2.17 and 3.2% for 1999, 2000 and 2001. For 1998, the union is seeking the same increase given to North York municipal workers.”
“Its not about doing better than any other group of workers,” says Judy Darcy, National President of CUPE. “Sometimes treating people the same, means treating them differently. This employer needs to recognize the specific needs and issues affecting this group of workers.”
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