NEWS

City issues backup plan for work stoppage

03/22/2012 06:27 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT

Toronto arenas, pools, community centres and fitness facilities will not operate in the event of a strike or lockout involving the city’s 23,000 inside workers, the city manager announced Thursday.

Couples planning to get married at North York, York or Scarborough civic centres will have to make other plans in the event of a labour stoppage, although marriages at Toronto city hall would go ahead.

The service disruptions, a complete list of which is available here, were outlined Thursday by city manager Joe Pennachetti and will only happen in the event of a strike or lockout by inside city workers represented by CUPE Local 79.

CUPE Local 79 represents daycare workers, clerks, child care workers, nurses, janitors and community centre employees. The union's contract with the city expired on Dec. 31, 2011.

The city is negotiating with the union, whose members voted in favour of a strike mandate on Wednesday.

The union will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, although the union has said it won't automatically strike if that deadline arrives without a new deal.

In the event of a work stoppage, city sewer, water and emergency services, as well as the TTC, will continue to operate, Pennachetti said.

“We believe this contingency plan will meet the needs of Torontonians by ensuring that essential services continue,” he said. “We believe that we’ve struck the right balance.”

Meanwhile Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said city negotiators have had trouble getting union management to come to the bargaining table.

“For the most part, they’re not available,” said Holyday. “Today they aren’t available, yesterday they weren’t available. You have to have someone in the room to negotiate with. These people need to come to the table if we’re to get a settlement.”

CUPE spokesperson Cim Nun denied union negotiators are refusing to come to the table.

"We're moving as fast as we can while being responsible and making sure it's part of the useful process," he said yesterday. "We want a deal and will stay at the table as long as there is the opportunity to negotiate one."

The union has accused the city of bargaining in bad faith and complained to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

The city's library workers went on strike on Monday. Job security appears to be the sticking point in both disputes.

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