03/29/2012 12:46 EDT | Updated 05/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Toronto Strike: Split Vote By Inside Workers Saves City From Work Stoppage

TORONTO - Toronto officials say they will meet with union leaders for more talks after a split decision by inside workers on the city's latest contract offer.

Two groups of workers — full-time and part-time units of CUPE Local 79 — voted to accept the offer.

Two other groups — part-time recreation workers and part-time long-term care workers — rejected it.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says the labour agreements are "phenomenal" news and will allow him to continue reducing costs and improving services.

City officials say they will meet with the union on Friday to talk more about issues concerning the part-time recreation workers.

The city says the part-time workers in the long-term care homes and services unit will go to binding arbitration and do not have the legal right to strike.

"We offered a deal that is fair and reasonable for both our employees and taxpayers, and the vast majority of our employees agreed," Ford told a news conference at city hall today.

Deputy mayor Doug Holyday agreed, adding he looks forward to four years of labour peace. But he said the offer turned down by the part-time employee units was "very similar" to the deal ratified by outside workers last month.

Tim Maguire, president of Local 79, said both sides must now work to reach a fair deal for those who rejected the offer.

The two sides are in a legal strike-lockout position. But Maguire has said it's unlikely that any job action would take place before Friday at the earliest and stressed the union would rather continuing bargaining than see workers walk off the job.

Toronto’s 23,000 inside workers include child-care workers, ambulance dispatchers, nurses, janitors and parks and recreation staff.

About 11,500 full-time and 1,150 part-time workers accepted the city's final offer in Wednesday's vote, the city said.

A tentative deal has also been reached between the city and its 2,300 library workers, who went on strike March 19.

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