Ottawa garbage strike looms - workers fight management concession demands

    OTTAWA, June 22 /CNW Telbec/ - A commercial garbage strike could affect
businesses and restaurants, government and public buildings, and apartment
buildings and condos in Ottawa, Kanata, West Carleton, Stittsville,
Gloucester, Rideau and area communities, as early as July 6, if Local 1338 of
the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is unable to reach a negotiated
settlement with Waste Management Canada Inc, on behalf of 50 waste haulage
personnel and 15 landfill operators at the Carp Road landfill site.
    "Our employer is demanding a long list of contract concessions that will
leave us little choice but to walk off the job to defend our contract," said
Dan Sauve, president of CUPE 1338. "We will do our best in mediation talks to
prevent a strike, but if management doesn't back away from concession demands,
we could be in for a long, hot and stinky summer in the region."
    The workers collect and haul commercial garbage and recycling and run the
landfill site at Carp road. A strike would affect all commercial, public and
apartment buildings, and cause a backup at the landfill site, as other
unionized waste collection workers will not cross the picket line and the
landfill will be shutdown. The workers voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike
this week, and they face a legal strike or lockout deadline of 12:01 am,
Friday, July 6. Mediation talks have been scheduled for July 4.
    "Essentially we'll be looking at a mountain of trash, both commercial and
residential, all because our employer wants to gouge workers and decimate
their collective agreement - it's totally unfair and unncessary," said Andy
Mele, CUPE national representative.
    Concessions demanded by the employer include cuts to benefits, drastic
changes to hours of work with no set schedules, weakened health and safety
provisions, cuts to holidays, cuts to leave for union activities, 60-hour
workweeks with no overtime pay, forced overtime, and non-union casual labour
allowed to take over unionized work.
    "With concessions like these, it's hard to imagine that our employer is
serious about reaching a contract settlement," added Sauve. "A strike would
also threaten the very contracts our employer has with commercial clients, as
they inevitably sign up with other companies to haul their waste during a
lengthy disruption in service."
    "It's really a shame this emloyer is trying to pull a stunt like this at
the height of our tourism season," said Mele. "The last thing tourists want to
see is piles of rotting garbage and vermine in the streets - it's likely many
of them won't be coming back any time soon. That's why we invite residents to
contact local councillors and tell them to put pressure on our employer to
reach a fair settlement - without a strike. All it takes is a concession-free
agreement that's reasonable and fair."

For further information:

For further information: Andy Mele, CUPE National Representative, (613)
237-0115, cell: (613) 878-4444; Dan Sauve, CUPE 1338 President, cell: (613)
295-4230; Guy Lavigne, CUPE 1338 (Francophone spokesperson), (819) 661-7652;
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communciations, (416) 292-3999

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