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Talks between zoo, striking employees end without agreement

Last Updated May 20, 2017 at 7:11 pm EDT

Talks between the Toronto Zoo and its striking workers have abruptly ended without an agreement.

CUPE Local 1600 President Christine McKenzie called it “incredibly frustrating and disappointing” while questioning management’s “real agenda” when it comes the key issue of job security.

“The employment security and contracting out language we are fighting to protect maintains the Zoo’s world-leading conservation, research, education and species survival programs,” McKenzie said in a statement released following the breakdown of negotiations.

McKenzie added that zoo negotiators have been unable or unwilling to provide a clear rationale for seeking these concessions.

“We are asking – what is the agenda for the future of the zoo? Let’s be transparent about what this is really about.”

On Friday, the union indicated it was “95 percent” of the way towards a new deal.

Zoo management countered by saying it put forth a “reasonable compromise” that would have preserved the current agreement’s job security language for existing employees. They add the offer put forth is “entirely fair and reasonable” when compared to agreements with other city employees.

Both sides agree the dispute is not about wages and benefits and the only outstanding issue standing in the way of an agreement is job security.

The Toronto Zoo remains closed for the duration of the strike.