Union, city disagree on state of labour talks

The union representing about 8,000 full and part-time city workers, says the City of Toronto has abandoned negotiations on a new contract.

A war of words has erupted between the union representing municipal workers and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

The union — CUPE Local 416 — says the city has abandoned negotiations on a new contract.  It represents about 8,000 full and part-time municipal workers.

"The city is on a one-way track to a labour disruption at this point.  We believe that this has been the administration's plan all the way along and quite frankly we're not going to take their bait," said CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson.

CUPE says the city filed for conciliation with the Ontario Labour Relations Board after the union rejected a proposal to replace some full-time workers with part-time workers across multiple city divisions.

The union said in a news release that "a request for conciliation is a necessary trigger for either side to declare an impasse, setting the stage for a labour disruption."

But Ford contradicted the union. 

On Thursday he said "we're [the city] bargaining in good faith and that's what we want and that's what the taxpayers want."

"I want to come to a deal, or an agreement with the union, and I think that's what everybody wants.  Nobody wants to see a strike," Ford said.

"Hopefully it doesn't go down that road, but on the other hand we can't be pushed around or bullied and everyone understands that.  I want to make sure the taxpayers get the best bang for their dollar, and obviously labour gets a fair deal."

When asked if he thought the two sides could reach an agreement Ford said, "I'm sure we will." 

A strike or lockout could come in early January.