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Some striking elevator mechanics forced back to work

About 300 of the GTA’s 800 striking elevator mechanics were forced back to work Monday morning by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, but that’s just for new construction projects.

The Board also ruled that elevator mechanics can no longer picket outside residential buildings.

Ben McIntyre, chair of the International Union of Elevator Constructors negotiating committee said he was stunned by the actions of National Elevator and Escalator Association (NEEA).

“We were stunned that NEEA seemed content on prioritizing installations of condominiums rather that seriously bargain a collective agreement that would see all elevators in Ontario repaired, installed and maintained,” he said at a press conference Monday.

McIntyre says the actions of NEEA have created a false hope to all Ontarians and would only benefit those in the residential construction industry in the GTA and nowhere else.

The back-to-work order doesn’t cover nursing homes, hospitals and apartment towers. It could still be some time before repairs to existing elevators are completed.

The return to work order is based on a section of the Labour Relations Act that caps residential strikes at six weeks, a limit the Union of Elevator Constructors reached on Saturday.

Elevator workers in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa have been off the job since May 1. About 800 of the 1,400 workers involved are from the GTA.

With files from Showwei Chu