NEWS

Union leader says offer won't provide cost savings

01/16/2012 12:40 EST | Updated 03/17/2012 05:12 EDT

The union representing Toronto’s outside workers is not thrilled with the latest contract offer from City Hall, which seeks to trim back job protection for workers with less than 25 years of service.

On Monday, city negotiators offered a four-year deal to the bargaining team for the Toronto Civic Employees' Union Local 416 that would include lump-sum wage payments, while also eliminating the “jobs for life” provision for workers with less than a quarter-century on the job.

“The removal of the jobs for life clause means workers made redundant with less than 25 years on the job can lose their job,” CBC’s Natalie Kalata reported Monday.

However, the city said the offer “provides for the continuation of employment security in regards to contracting out” for workers with at least 25 years of service.

CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson said the offer would not save the city money.

“We don't believe [the offer] provides a cost savings,” Ferguson said.

"Their proposal today only addressed wages in terms of a lump-sum payment, which is not a wage increase. What we were looking for was a wage freeze in exchange for continuing to have great public services in the city. The administration was not accepting of that offer."

The union said the extra cash the city is offering works out to about $250 a year per member.

In a press release, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said the offer “reflects our continuing commitment to get a negotiated settlement with Local 416 and avoid a labour disruption.”

He said it “provides the city with much-needed changes and will allow us to improve the delivery of city services."

No face-to-face talks held

Holyday said at the time the city wants to get language changed and clauses removed from the contracts which, he says, "stop us from getting to the efficiencies we need."

The union hasn’t necessarily rejected the offer made on Monday. But it wants to talk more with city negotiators, which it is scheduled to do on Thursday.

The two sides have not held face-to-face talks since last year and earlier this week the conciliator appointed to help bring the two sides together asked for what is called a 'no board' report, which essentially gives the two sides 17 days to reach an agreement.

At the end of that time, a strike or a lockout can occur.

A decision on the no boards report by the Ontario Labour Relations Board is expected on Tuesday -- meaning a strike or lockout could happen as early as Feb. 3.

CUPE Local 416 represents about 6,000 outside workers.

Another union is also bargaining with the city. CUPE Local 79 represents about 26,000 inside workers.

The contracts for both groups expired at the end of 2011.

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