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City and union will resume talks at noon after deadline passes

The city and the union that represents its 23,000 inside workers say they have agreed to resume talks beginning noon Saturday after a 12:01 a.m. deadline passed.

Inside workers can now legally strike or be locked out, although there’s been no indication that a labour disruption is imminent, as both sides try to hammer away at sticking points.

“We have passed the deadline, and have no new time frame for the new deadline, but talks are continuing,” Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said at a 1 a.m. news conference. “We are going to keep at it as long as things are moving in the right direction.”

Holyday stressed that as long as negotiations continued to be productive the city had no plans to lock out workers.

“I don’t think we are going to lock them out,” he said. “As long as meaningful discussions are taking place we are going to be at the table.”

The main sticking point remains the so-called “jobs for life” clause in the contract.

CUPE’s latest proposal scaled back the job security clause from all members, to those with 10 years or more on the job. That would apply to around 70 per cent of union members.

The city is pushing for job security at 17 years. Outside workers found a compromise at 15 years during their recent successful negotiations.

Local 79 spokesperson Cim Nunn addressed the media about an hour before the 12:01 deadline, saying progress was being made. “We’ve gone back and forth a couple of times, both sides are engaged,” he said.

The union has said all along it would continue to negotiate past the deadline as long as progress is being made and the city doesn’t try to pull anything off the table.

“We are not going to walk off the job if there’s no deal,” Nunn told CityNews earlier Friday.

The inside workers’ contract expired on Dec. 31, 2011, and negotiations began five months ago.

On Thursday, city manager Joe Pennachetti revealed contingency plans in the event of a labour disruption.

He said police, fire, ambulance, the TTC, water and sewage treatment systems would not be affected.

Day care centres and parks and recreation facilities would be closed.

Click here for a full list of affected services.

Meanwhile, the union representing Toronto’s striking library workers rallied at city hall Friday morning to call for a fair deal and for protecting services.

CUPE Local 4948 members walked off the job last Sunday.