Workers sitting on chairs in an auditorium while a person speaks at a podiumTown of Whitby municipal workers are trying to avert a looming strike or lockout by ramping up efforts to warn about harmful concessions, says CUPE 53.

“Instead of giving us a good explanation for why the employer needs full control to make members work an indefinite number of temporary assignments and the power to eliminate current shift schedules, wreaking havoc on our quality of life, among other things, we’ve gotten nothing,” said Rob Radford, president of CUPE 53, representing the approximately 300 Unit 2 members facing a potential strike or lockout. “And now we’re headed towards a strike deadline that can be avoided if the employer and the Town of Whitby recognizes that these concessions are unnecessary.”

With the employer’s request for a “No Board” report being approved by the Ministry of Labour today, the clock is now ticking on labour disruption in Whitby, with the strike deadline being October 13. As of late, negotiations between the employer and the workers broke down due to disagreement over concessions. Radford says the employer wants to force an indefinite number of temporary assignments on members; and wants shift schedules where workers would be made available over a greater period of time, which could mean compressed work weeks, split shifts, and rotating shifts. This will have a dramatic impact on families and their quality of life, according to the union.

“We’re running out of time but we’re turning up the heat now,” said Radford.  “Matt Gaskell, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Whitby, has advised that councillors and the mayor gave the employer their mandate to demand these concessions. They need to be made aware that this is a bad deal. And we deserve better. That’s why we’ll be attending council meetings to make our voices heard; emailing and calling elected representatives; and letting residents of Whitby know about the services we deliver and that we deserve better than precarious work and unstable shifts.”