Visibly Angered Mayor David Miller Calls Sudden TTC Strike “Unacceptable And Irresponsible”

“Unacceptable and irresponsible.”

Those were Mayor David Miller’s words as he responded to the sudden TTC strike that took effect at 12:01am Saturday.

In a hastily arranged press conference, a visibly angered Miller, with TTC Chair Adam Giambrone by his side, said he asked Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 boss Bob Kinnear to respect an earlier promise to give 48 hours’ notice of a strike, but Kinnear reportedly refused.

“On behalf of city council and the people of Toronto I want to express my extreme disappointment at the result of today’s ratification vote by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 and the ensuing notification by the union that they are going to undertake strike action effective midnight tonight. This strike action is unacceptable and unnecessary,” Miller asserts.

“The agreement negotiated between the Toronto Transit Commission and its employees was fair and reasonable. It gave the workers a fair wage increase of 3 per cent a year in each of three years and negotiated certain benefit and other improvements that were fair to the workers and responsible with public funds.

“Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 promised the people of Toronto 48 hours’ notice of any strike action,” Miller said. “I spoke to Mr. Kinnear earlier this evening and asked on behalf of Torontonians and TTC riders that he honour this commitment. He refused. This is unacceptable and irresponsible.”

Kinnear’s reasoning for not giving notice this time around was for the safety of the union members, some of whom were apparently assaulted last weekend when a strike appeared likely on Monday. That didn’t happen, as a tentative deal was struck that would’ve given members a three per cent annual wage increase.

But the tentative deal was rejected by 65 per cent of members Friday night, leading to the midnight walkout.

Miller said he spoke to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty about enacting back-to-work legislation as soon as possible and the Premier agreed, releasing a statement late Friday in response to the unexpected walkout that left many Torontonians in the lurch at the start of the weekend.

“Shortly after 11 pm I received a request from Mayor Miller to proceed with back to work legislation at the first available opportunity to end service disruption with the TTC,” McGuinty said. “I informed the Mayor that we will be proceeding with back to work legislation at the first available opportunity.”

The legislature would have to approve such an action before it could be enacted, meaning Torontonians may have to find an alternate way to work on Monday if transit workers are still off the job.

A provincial mediator with the Ontario Ministry of Labour has asked both sides to return to the bargaining table at 1pm Saturday. Miller assures the TTC will be there – it’s unclear at this point whether the union will.

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