No need to rush through TTC essential service legislation, says transit union

DOWNSVIEW, ON, Feb. 22 /CNW/ - The union that represents nearly 10,000 operations and maintenance employees of the Toronto Transit Commission said the bill introduced in the Ontario Legislature today designating the TTC an 'essential service' should be given normal legislative treatment and not rushed through to meet an artificial deadline being demanded by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

"We have committed to entering into an agreement with the TTC that we will arbitrate our next settlement, if necessary," says Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. "We would do so under Section 40 of the Labour Relations Act, which would foreclose any possibility of a work stoppage this year."

On February 10, the union offered the TTC a written agreement under Section 40 to send all outstanding contract issues to binding arbitration as of March 31, the date the current agreement expires. City officials responded with a demand that the union sign away all its members' collective bargaining rights forever, including the right to seek judicial remedy of any law that might violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"The City's refusal of our arbitration offer and their outrageous demand that we sign away our members' rights in perpetuity is compelling evidence that the Mayor's agenda is not really continuity of transit service but an attack on unions.

"We are saying give labour peace a chance but Ford prefers confrontation, and from a safe distance. He doesn't have the guts to meet me face to face and explain why he won't accept our very reasonable offer of arbitration.

"Since there will be no strike this year, there is no need for the provincial government to treat this situation as an emergency and ram through the bill. It takes away a fundamental right of workers and violates an international treaty to which Canada is signatory. Such a bill deserves at least the normal amount of legislative time to consider and conduct public consultations and we will continue to press for that."

The union will not be commenting in detail on the specifics of the bill until it has had an opportunity to thoroughly review it.

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

For further information:

Laura Ziemba, 416-712-0412

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Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

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