The City of Toronto and the union representing thousands of its workers agreed Wednesday to extend a strike deadline by 48 hours, with both sides expressing optimism that a deal can be reached to avoid a labour disruption.
CUPE Local 416 and the city were both in a legal strike or lockout position as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but that has now been extended to 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
“This is a positive step for both parties in the ongoing effort to come to an agreement and avoid a work stoppage that will affect the residents of Toronto,” said CUPE 416 president Eddie Mariconda.
Mariconda said the union remains concerned that the city is attempting to weave clauses into the agreement that would open the door to privatization. In spite of those efforts, a deal can be reached if everyone remains reasonable, he said.
“We are not going anywhere until we hammer out a deal,” he said.
Mayor John Tory said both sides remain at the bargaining table and he’s confident a deal can be reached.
“We are not going backwards on things that we’ve achieved in the past but we feel there’s still a way, notwithstanding, to achieve a fair and reasonable and timely settlement,” Tory said.
“But I’m an optimist and I think there’s enough goodwill at the table on both sides.”
Tory said he is not seeking to privatize any services or eliminate jobs through contracting out.
“I want to run an efficient government here … but in the last five years I have been mayor, not one (CUPE 416) job has been lost to any kind of measure like that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the city’s inside workers have received a no board report from the Ministry of Labour, which sets the legal strike or lockout position at 12:01 a.m. on March 14.
The city says they are working on a contingency plans in the event of a work stoppage with CUPE Local 79, which represents inside workers.