Management at the Toronto Zoo have put themselves on the fast track to a lockout, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1600 representing more than 400 staff at the zoo warned today.
“We are very troubled and mystified by zoo management’s decision to request a ‘no board’ report from the Ministry of Labour last week,” said Christine McKenzie, president of CUPE Local 1600, which represents a wide range of zoo staff, including horticulturalists, maintenance staff, zookeepers, trades people, animal nutrition assistants, veterinary technicians, and many others.
On April 4, zoo management informed negotiators for Local 1600 that they intended to seek a ‘no board’ report from the Ministry of Labour. Under Ontario labour law, once the ‘no board’ report is issued, either party can trigger a work stoppage 17 days later.
It is expected that the zoo will be in a legal lockout position at 12:01 a.m. on April 26.
“This is troubling because the zoo appears to be putting the entire spring season at risk, including the upcoming panda display by putting us on a fast track to a lockout. It is mystifying because, throughout the bargaining process, management has steadfastly refused to engage in anything resembling meaningful bargaining,” said McKenzie.
“We have repeatedly tabled proposals to address the issues zoo management have raised as priorities in this round of bargaining. Our members have been extremely modest in their proposals for improvements to the collective agreement. Management has essentially refused to even consider our proposals to address their concerns, and outright refused to consider our own priorities,” she added.
Local 1600’s bargaining team has committed to remaining at the bargaining table as long as is necessary to achieve a collective agreement that is fair to the public and workers, while respecting the zoo’s needs, provided there is a willing partner at the table to bargain with.
“We can’t bargain with ourselves. The zoo’s management needs to be there as well,” said McKenzie.
Local 1600 members will hold an information session outside Toronto City Hall this Thursday, April 11, prior to the zoo’s regularly scheduled 2:00 p.m. board meeting.
For more information, please contact:
Christine McKenzie, President, CUPE 1600, 416-579-2873
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641