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Striking elevator workers hold downtown rally

Striking elevator workers held a rally in downtown Toronto on Thursday before marching through the city’s financial district.

The rally began at noon at the corner of King and Bay streets.

About 1,400 members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors Locals (IUEC) 50, 96 and 90 have been on strike since May 1 after talks with a coalition of employers broke down.

It’s the first time the three Ontario locals have gone on strike in over 20 years.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), which participated in the rally, said Thursday that “nearly every one” of Ontario’s 50,000 elevators are out of compliance with provincial safety standards and roughly 75 per cent are in some form of disrepair.

Members of the union say they have offered to perform repairs through bargaining but their employers – including Kone, Otis, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp – have refused.

“I’m astonished that the union’s offer to keep working throughout bargaining was met with outright refusal by these employers,” OFL president Sid Ryan said in a statement.

“Every day that the employers refuse to negotiate, lives are being put at risk. We cannot wait for a serious accident to occur before employers are forced back to the bargaining table.”

During the strike, managers of the four companies are conducting repairs and emergency maintenance, but aren’t performing regular upkeep, they say.

Although a provincial negotiator has been called, no new talks are planned between the workers and their management.

What are the elevators like in your building?  Let us know in the comments.