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Striking Toronto Zoo workers rally at city hall

Striking Toronto Zoo workers rally at city hall, June 2, 2017. 680 NEWS/Momin Qureshi

Striking Toronto Zoo workers took their fight to the front doors of city hall on Friday.

Workers walked off the job on May 10 after CUPE Local 1600 and zoo officials failed to come to terms on the key issue of job security.

Chanting “Zoo workers united will never be divided,” striking staff waved flags and held up banners demanding fair contracts.

Christine McKenzie, a zookeeper and president of the union, said the city is pushing for a two-tiered system, which is something zoo employees refuse to accept.

“They obviously want to contract out people as soon as possible, and that would put the conservation work that we do at the zoo, the research work that we do, the education work, in jeopardy,” she explained.

“You can’t have unskilled contract workers doing the high quality breeding and research work that we do at the zoo.”

MPP and federal NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh came out to Nathan Phillips Square to show his support.

He said he realizes the city has a tight budget, but workers shouldn’t suffer.

“There’s always going to be tough decisions to be made when it comes to government, but it can never be that workers or everyday people bear the brunt of it,”he said. “There’s other ways that we can insure that we’re fiscally responsible. This should never be on the backs of workers.”

The 400 striking workers include zookeepers, maintenance, administration, ride operators, public relations staff and concession workers.

More than 1.3 million people visited the zoo last year — that’s an increase of about 170,000 visitors compared to 2015.

There are no immediate plans to get both sides back to the bargaining table.