More elevator shutdowns inevitable as strike continues

As a strike by Ontario's unionized elevator and escalator technicians enters its second month, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority says more elevator shutdowns will be inevitable as the strike continues.

TSSA says it'll shut down any elevator or escalator it deems unsafe as regular maintenance falls by the wayside

More elevators could be shut down in Ottawa, like this one in Sudbury, Ont., as the province-wide elevator and escalator technician strike continues. (Erik White/CBC)

As a strike by Ontario's unionized elevator and escalator technicians enters its second month, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority says more elevator shutdowns will be inevitable as the strike continues.

The International Union of Elevator Constructors locals 96, 90 and 50 went on strike May 1 after deciding not to accept a last-minute offer from their employers.

There are more than 10,000 elevators and escalators in Ottawa, according to the union, about 85 per cent of which are repaired and maintained by union members.

While they're on strike, qualified managers at the big four companies — ThyssenKrupp, Otis, Schindler and Kone — are responding to calls themselves, sometimes with the help of apprentices.

They're focusing on high-priority buildings such as hospitals and homes for seniors, leaving little time for regular maintenance, said Patrick Morin, a lawyer representing the employers.

Without that maintenance, the TSSA's Wilson Lee said the agency will have to start shutting down any elevators it deems unsafe.

While there hasn't yet been a spike in the number of shutdowns, Lee said the TSSA is encouraging both sides to settle.

Negotiations broke down last week, said Local 90 president Dan Vinette, and there are no current plans for more talks.