Toronto Workers at the Toronto Zoo have learned that their employer has started to bring in supplies to prepare for a lockout. The workers, members of CUPE Local 1600, have also learned that management plans to close the zoo to the public during any lockout period.
Before key issues had even been discussed at the bargaining table, negotiators for the zoo recently asked a government conciliation officer to file a “no board” report, which started the countdown to a strike or lockout deadline. A lockout could occur as early as May 7th.
We are trying to negotiate a collective agreement here, said Jim Fudge, president of Local 1600, but the zoo seems bent on a confrontation at every turn. It seems entirely possible that they will choose to lock out 325 employees rather than work to achieve a contract.
We are quite concerned about the loss of membership revenue that would result from a shutdown. We are also concerned that the animals would not be provided with adequate care in the event of a lockout, as only a handful of managers are trained to look after them, Fudge added.
The zoo is seeking concessions in terms of contract language, and has also proposed that volunteers may start to take on work handling the animals, which the union opposes. The union is seeking wage parity with other city workers.
CUPE represents 180,000 working women and men in Ontario, many of whom work for municipalities, hospitals, school boards and universities.
For further information:
Jim Fudge, CUPE Local 1600,
Lorne Trevors, CUPE Representative,
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications,