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Toronto Wakes Up To TTC Strike

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:34 am    Post subject: Toronto Wakes Up To TTC Strike Reply with quote

Saturday April 26, 2008
CityNews.ca Staff

Toronto woke up to a city shut down by a transit strike.

TTC workers dealt the city of Toronto a shocking blow Friday night, walking off the job at midnight after voting to reject a tentative deal that averted a walkout less than a week ago.

Despite earlier promises of 48 hours notice, workers were off the job almost immediately.

The news came as a shock to Friday night revelers stuck in the down-town core.

"At least two hours notice would have been nice!" lamented Catherine Franklin.

Fiona Dunbar held up a pair of red-soled shoes and said, "This is how I'm getting home. Two legs and stilettos."

"I'm stuck in Little Italy, I live in Scarborough," exclaimed Jesse Christensen. "What am I going to do - walk home?"

The headaches continued into Saturday, as those who woke up to the news had to scramble to make alternate arrangements. Don't count on the GO - that stretched-to-capacity system will not be adding more trains or buses.

The strike began at 12:01am Saturday, grinding the transit system to a halt and leaving many city dwellers surprised and stranded.

Nearly two-thirds of the 9,000 TTC workers eligible to vote rejected the deal, which would have given them a three per cent wage hike over the next three years, as well as other benefits and improvements Mayor David Miller termed "fair."

But the tabled contract apparently wasn't what the union was looking for.

"We have assessed the situation and decided that we will not expose our members to the dangers of assaults from angry and irrational members of the public," said Bob Kinnear, ATU Local 113 President.

"The reports from our members of increases in threats and abuse from passengers last weekend, after we gave our original 48-hours' notice, has left us no choice but to withdraw our services immediately. We have a legal responsibility to protect the safety of our members and so does the TTC."

"We have informed the TTC and the Ministry of Labour of this development. Our Executive will be meeting on Saturday morning to determine our next steps."

The rejection of the offer was not entirely unpredictable: on Wednesday night nearly half of the executive board of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 stormed out of a meeting where the fine print of the tentative contract was revealed.

Hundreds of maintenance workers were unhappy with the settlement that stopped the strike, which would allow some of their duties to be contracted out. They were asking TTC operators to support them in their opposition.

"This contract is more for the drivers than us," TTC maintenance worker Desmond Pidder said. "It shouldn't be accepted."

The tentative contract needed the approval of 50 percent plus one to pass. The contract was rejected by 65 percent of the members who voted on Friday night.

It was less than a week ago that ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear announced to the city that a transit strike had been averted after talks went past the deadline set for 4pm Sunday. He admitted the labour group didn't get everything it had wanted in the deal but added he had no problem recommending it for ratification.
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