TORONTO — Inside workers began a work-to-rule campaign Monday after the two sides failed to make sufficient progress on labour negotiations over the weekend.
“Our members are just going to stop working for free,” said CUPE Local 79 President Tim Maguire on Monday.
“Our members already save the city money by very often not taking their breaks, not taking their lunches, because they want to serve the public and they’re going above and beyond.”
WATCH: With Toronto’s inside workers beginning a work-to-rule campaign, Mark McAllister looks into the action being taken short of a strike.
Maguire said while talks were ongoing, the city needed to “pick up the pace of negotiations.”
“Over the weekend we extended the deadline twice in order to provide some more space to get talks going,” Maguire said.
“But a work-to-rule campaign actually is a way to try to have an impact at the bargaining table to try to get the city to move along the pace of bargaining without interrupting service.”
The union represents 23,100 workers in child care centres, emergency shelters, libraries, water treatment and other services.
Maguire repeatedly stated earlier there would be no service disruptions, but that workers would take such steps as taking all mandated breaks and refusing to perform any tasks not in their primary job descriptions.
The union said there are still big differences on key issues at bargaining including job security and cuts to the benefits program.
“Our part-time workers wait by their phone to find out when their next shift is. Our full-time members sometimes work for years as temporary workers without security. We’re still facing cuts to our benefits program,” said Maguire.
Mayor John Tory distanced himself on Monday from potential lockout discussions by saying he is 100 per cent focused on reaching a collective agreement.
“I respect their members. I respec the work they do. They have good jobs that are well compensated,” Tory said.
“But they have to understand that the agreement we’re going to reach, and people shouldn’t underestimate my resolve in making sure the agreement is fair to the workers but also fair to the citizens of Toronto.”
Maguire said the two sides also remain divided on several issues, including wage increases he said “are not comparable to the levels of other city employee groups.”
The city struck a deal with its 5,400 outside workers Friday. Both sides had been without a contract since the end of 2015.
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