More than 2,300 employees of the Toronto Public Library are off the job after the negotiators for the Library Board continued their aggressive attack on workers’ job security.
The negotiations had continued past a midnight strike deadline, but in the end the Library Board failed to relent on its demands for concessions, and the union bargaining committee had little choice but to call a strike.
Maureen O’Reilly, president of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4948, said the union had bargained hard to seek assurances that conditions would not get worse for library workers and lead to a further decrease in the quality of service. The Board’s position on job security would set the stage for further cuts to staff, on top of the 107 positions lost in the 2012 budget. According to O’Reilly, further cuts to staff would lead to possible branch closures.
O’Reilly will address a rally of striking union members at noon on March 19 in front of City Hall at 100 Queen Street West.
“We are very disappointed that the Board is attempting to continue the attacks launched by the Ford Administration on the rights of our members, more than half of whom are permanently stuck in part-time jobs,” O’Reilly said. “It’s astounding the Board would rather see neighbourhood services disrupted than back off from cuts to already overworked staff.“
With Local 4948 members pushed out on strike, 98 neighbourhood branches across the city will not likely be able to operate.
“The Board thinks they can just ignore Toronto residents’ love for librarians,” she added. “In recent polls, in letters, at rallies, at Council, people have been quite clear: they support the workers and the services they deliver.”
Even though library use has increased 29 per cent since 1998, staff numbers have decreased 17 per cent over the same period. Work is increasingly done through vulnerable part-time and page positions.
“Each time our members experience cuts, people get less services and fewer resources in their neighbourhood as well,” said O’Reilly. “We are not going to let our members get hung out to dry, and we are not going to allow Toronto’s public libraries to be hollowed out.”
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