Toronto strike or lockout possible within 3 weeks

A labour stoppage at the City of Toronto moved one step closer to reality after the city declared an impasse in contract talks with the city's outside workers' union.

City declares impasse with outside workers union

City workers clear garbage from a temporary dump in downtown Toronto after a 39-day civic strike in 2009. Another strike could happen as soon as early February.

A labour stoppage at the City of Toronto moved one step closer to reality after the city declared an impasse in contract talks with the city's outside workers' union.

The city announced it would notify the Ontario Minister of Labour Thursday about the stalled talks, which will put the union in a legal strike position and the city in a legal lockout position in under three weeks.

The province will receive the report in the next few days, then a legal work stoppage could start in as soon as 17 days, CBC reporter Jamie Strashin said.

CUPE local union president Mark Ferguson said any work stoppage will be at the feet of city management. (CBC)

The Toronto Civic Employees Union, CUPE Local 416, represents about 6,000 outside workers. A strike or lockout could affect Emergency Medical Services, garbage collection, Toronto Water, transportation and parks and recreation.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and union president Mark Ferguson both claimed that the other side hasn't been willing to negotiate.

"We will certainly be willing to discuss wages and benefits that are reasonable with these people," Holyday said. "But it takes more than one side to negotiate."

Said Ferguson: "We believe that it takes…two sides to come to an agreement and so far we've not seen that from city negotiators," he said.

Both men said they're hopeful both sides can reach an agreement before the 17 days pass.

The City said in a release it wants "a more reasonable level regarding the numerous terms and conditions of employment" and "appropriate wages and benefits."

Ferguson said both sides are "very far apart" but that the union has no intention of striking. "If there is a labour disruption in the city of Toronto, it will solely be at the feet of this administration," he said. 

The City's negotiations with the inside workers union, Local 79, continues.