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On the road again at the TTC

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject: On the road again at the TTC Reply with quote

30-minute session at Legislature puts end to sudden strike


The ice jam is broken but it may still be a frosty ride on the TTC this morning.

"I ask that upon restoration of TTC services that users extend their usual courtesy to workers there for the invaluable service they provide," Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday, as he introduced a bill ordering an end to a sudden and unexpected strike by 8,900 transit workers.

"It seems to me ... courtesy and goodwill are the foundation that we should all seek to build."

Labour Minister Brad Duguid followed his leader in urging commuters to be kind after the union membership left thousands stranded Friday night when it unexpectedly voted down a tentative deal. Executive members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113, shut down the transit system with only an hour's notice.

The sudden strike came despite a pledge by ATU president Bob Kinnear that the union would give 48 hours notice before walking out.

"We recognize the frustration that exists throughout the city with regards to the strike," Duguid said. "But first and foremost don't take that out on the front-line workers. When they're back on the job, greet them with a friendly 'hello' and thank them for being back to work."

That sentiment was echoed by both opposition parties, whose support McGuinty and Duguid needed to speed the back-to-work legislation through an emergency Sunday session at Queen's Park in barely 30 minutes.

Lt.-Gov. David Onley signed the bill into law about 30 minutes later at the Air Canada Centre, where he was attending the Toronto Rock la crosse game. An arbitrator will now settle outstanding issues in the labour dispute.

Toronto's public transit system was chugging once again at 5:15 p.m. yesterday.

"I think the average operator and driver would not have found it reasonable to have started this strike the way it was, with no consideration for the safety of the travelling public," Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said.

"I think it may be up to them to take some of their leadership out in the back and give them a horsewhipping."

With no seat in the house, Tory could only watch the proceedings. PC MPPs Bob Runciman and Peter Shurman called for the union to apologize for the strike.

The Liberals rounded up 48 of their 71 MPPs for the vote; the Tories and NDP had seven each.

NDP head Howard Hampton sidestepped the Conservative de -mand for a union apology. "Anger doesn't lead you in a positive direction," he said.

"Trying to sort through the haystack to find out who you're going to blame is not a worthwhile exercise. We need to focus now on the positive."

What's needed, he said, is for the union and TTC management to agree on an arbitrator who will ultimately rule on what the terms of a new contract should be.

The deal, which was re -jected by workers, would have provided annual wage increases of 3% for three years, plus a special clause that ensured drivers were the highest paid in the GTA.

But maintenance workers felt it left some work open to contracting out, sparking a revolt against the union executive, which had recommended ratification of the agreement; 65% of workers voted to reject the agreement.

A clause in the legislation says the arbitrator shall consider the employer's "ability to pay" in light of its fiscal situation and the Toronto economy when settling issues in the TTC dispute.
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