City prepares contingency plan for civic workers strike
If Toronto's civic employees walk off the job next week, residents of Canada's biggest city are being warned they'll have to do without garbage pickup, city-run daycares, summer camps and swimming pools.
"All that we can do is give the public notice," said City of Toronto manager Joe Pennachetti at a Wednesday afternoon news conference at city hall.
The city and its two major unions, which represent both inside and outside workers, are locked in contract negotiations, with the largest union saying it is prepared to strike on June 22, unless there's a deal in place.
Pennachetti listed a host of services the city will no longer be able to provide if there is a strike.
The most critical services under threat are Toronto's 57 daycare centres, as well as garbage pickup for both residential and commercial customers.
"If there is a labour disruption we are asking that residents and businesses be patient until a resolution is reached," said Pennachetti. "There will be interruptions to our daily lives but the plan the city has prepared means that many critical services will continue."
But for those residents who depend on the city to provide daycare, lifeguards at city-run swimming pools and counsellors at city-run summer camps, there will be no relief if a strike happens.
"We are continuing negotiations … we're working 18-hour days and as far as we're concerned we're still working towards a negotiated settlement," said Pennechetti.
Transfer stations would accept trash
The city says it will have two transfer stations open 24 hours a day to accept residential and commercial garbage. Five other transfer stations will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Asked by reporters what steps the city has taken to avoid the type of confrontation that broke out between residents and striking workers at transfer stations during the last strike in 2002, Pennachetti replied, "We will play it as it occurs."
Police, fire and long-term care facilities would not be affected by any labour disruption.
The ambulance service would be reduced — but the union has promised that any action will not affect service.
Social services, community centres, parks, water and sewer services would all be affected to varying degrees, but continue to provide emergency service.
The city's museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions would be closed and any programs run in those centres cancelled.
The Toronto Civic Employees Union CUPE Local 416 said last week it is frustrated with the city's bargaining position and is prepared to walk off the job when the clock strikes midnight on June 22.
The main stumbling block, according to the TCEU, is a wide range of concessions the city wants in the next contract.
Another union, CUPE Local 79, is also conducting negotiations with the city but has not set a strike date.
The strike by Local 416 in 2002 lasted several weeks and ended only after the province stepped in and passed legislation to end the work stoppage.
Pennachetti said the city is optimistic.
"We want a negotiated settlement, nobody wants a strike and that's all I can say at this point.… if it happens it all depends on how lengthy it is and we really believe — at this point in time — we'll have a negotiated settlement."