Labour talks deadline looms

Councillors waiting to hear word on city's contingency plans

[font=Times New Roman]With a midnight deadline on labour talks looming, Toronto residents are waiting to hear if they will start the work week amid a service disruption. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]The city and CUPE Local 416 negotiators have been meeting throughout the weekend to try to reach an agreement for a new contract for the union’s 8,000 outside workers. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Like residents, local councillors were also waiting to hear updates from the bargaining table to find out if or when they may have to prepare for a labour disruption. Beach Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said if a labour stoppage occurs, she and office staff will make themselves more available to help out on the ground in the ward. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]“If it comes to that, but I really hope it doesn’t come to that,” she said friday afternoon. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman][font=Times New Roman]Without any overt indication from either side that a strike or lockout was imminent Friday, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday was reluctant to speak to the city’s contingency plan, however, he said city officials have been preparing in case of a labour stoppage, as it always does.[/font][/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]St. Paul’s rep Josh Matlow told the Town Crier Friday afternoon that he hasn’t been informed of any contingency plans but that councillors would take direction from the city once a labour distruption was in effect.[/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]“There are many councillors including myself who have been asking the city for a clear contingency plans that we can offer to our residents so at least they can have information,” Matlow said. “I believe that wil be forthcoming if a labour disruption does occur.”[/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Matlow posted on his website a list of affected services. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Even if the Sunday deadline passes without a disruption union workers could vote to strike at any time. McMahon said she was concerned about a Winterfest taking place in her ward February 11. If a strike is on, she said, it may be cancelled. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Services that could be disrupted due to an eventual strike or lockout include garbage and recycling pick-up, parks and road maintenance, animal rescue and rink operation. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Most of the snow-clearing services are contracted out but some areas continue to receive city snow clearing. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]AT THE BARGAINING TABLE [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]As of Friday evening, negotiations were continuing between the city and CUPE local 416. The two sides have been trying to table a collective agreement ahead of the Feb. 5 deadline that would put the city in legal lockout position. [/font]

[font=Times New Roman]The city indicated on Friday they will impose new terms and conditions that were set out at the bargaining table on Thursday. However, Holyday said the city has no int[/font][font=Times New Roman]ention of locking out employees on Sunday, and they will be expected to return to work as usual[/font][font=Times New Roman]. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson told reporters at a Friday morning press conference that negotiations had gone sour after the city put a “provocative, threatening” offer on the table that “basically guts our collective agreement.” [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Throughout the bargaining process, the union has offered what they say are significant proposals with concessions, including a three-year wage freeze and a five-year restriction on employment security. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]But the city is not budging on their proposals, which give the administration greater control and flexibility over wage protection, shift scheduling, employment security and redeployment of workers. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Ferguson said the proposal was “wrapped in a threat,” and that the city was bullying the union into an unfair deal. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]Holyday said it would be in the best interests of the union and Toronto residents to accept the city’s proposals. [/font]
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[font=Times New Roman]“It certainly would give four years of labour peace if you’d like, and they’d still be left with a contract that is better than any municipality in Canada and a lot of private sector people as well,” he said. “So, with that in mind it would be well-advised for them to take the contract.” [/font][font=’Times New Roman’]
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By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Feb 4 2012 1:39 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto
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