Toronto

Garbage strike looms in Toronto as city, union both refuse to budge

The City of Toronto and its outside workers remain far apart on contract talks as a midnight strike deadline looms, prompting a city spokesman to reiterate that more time is needed to hammer out an agreement.

The City of Toronto and its civic workers remain far apart on contract talks as a midnight strike deadline looms, prompting a city spokesman to reiterate that more time is needed to hammer out an agreement.  

If the roughly 24,000 workers walk off the job Monday, the city's garbage collection, summer camps and swimming pools will be shut down.

"The city continues to believe a strike is unnecessary," city spokesman Kevin Sack told reporters at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

"While the city does not want a strike, the city cannot simply agree to all of the union's requests to avoid one."

The city has repeatedly said it is willing to keep talking past the deadline in order to get a settlement.

No give on deadline extension

But if there's no deal by midnight, outside workers will walk out, Mark Ferguson, president of Toronto Civic Employees Union CUPE Local 416, told reporters earlier Sunday.

"We initially called for a strike vote in hopes that that would focus the minds and get the city truly negotiating. That didn't work. We then asked for a no-board report hoping that was going to get the city moving and truly negotiating. That didn't work," Ferguson said.

"We've had 17 days to try and effect a deal, and that does not appear to be working, so in our mind there is no reason to extend the deadline at this point."

He said he has one message for the city — "Wake up and let us get this deal done."

CUPE Local 416 and CUPE Local 79, which represents office workers and other staff, have set a 12:01 a.m. deadline to reach a contract agreement with the city.

Negotiations with CUPE Local 79 are under a media blackout, so it's unknown how far talks have progressed.

While progress has been made on some fronts, a number of sticking points remain, Ferguson said.

The two sides, bargaining with a provincial mediator, exchanged monetary proposals Saturday but other issues including sick leave, seniority and recall rights in the event of layoffs remain in dispute.

With files from The Canadian Press

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