City, unions now 2 weeks away from possible work stoppage

In just two weeks, more than 25,000 of the city's unionized employees could be on strike or locked out.

Both city and union say they don't want a strike or lockout

In just two weeks, more than 25,000 of the city's unionized employees could be on strike or locked out.

The city is currently negotiating a new labour deal with two CUPE unions: Local 79, which represents inside workers and Local 416, which represents outside workers.

This week the province's labour ministry issued no-board reports, indicating that talks are at a standstill. It also means that a strike or lockout is possible in two weeks.

Tim Maguire is the president of CUPE local 79, which represents the city's inside workers.

He appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning show Friday and said his union is seeking improvements to job security.

"We were concerned about the deep cuts and aggressive approach at the bargaining table," he said.

'Our goal is not to have service disruption'

Negotiations can continue after the union is in a legal strike position. Maguire said he's hoping to reach a negotiated deal before that happens.

"Our goal is not to have service disruption," he said.

He said many city workers are temporary full-time or part-time employees with little job security and constantly changing work schedules.

"We think we should be reversing the trend toward instability," said Maguire.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who chairs the city's labour relations committee, said the city needs a mix of full- and part-time employees. He also said the city is a good place to work.

"I think most people would say if you get a job with the city, you're in a pretty good spot," he said.

Minnan-Wong said the city is trying to curtail rising compensation costs that he says are putting pressure on the city's operating budget.

"We offer some of the best pay and benefits of any public sector organization around," he said. "Those costs are creeping up."

He said the city is committed to reaching a negotiated settlement.

"We don't want a labour disruption. There aren't a lot of winners in a labour disruption so we're going to try to work for a deal."