TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 06/06/13 -- Hundreds rallied amid Toronto's skyscrapers today to call on the Ministry of Labour to help end the ongoing elevator worker strike by forcing Ontario's four largest elevator companies back to the bargaining table. For over one month, an employer coalition representing Kone, Otis, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp has refused to negotiate with their 1,400 elevator mechanics, allowing virtually every one of the 50,000 elevators they service to fall out of compliance with crucial provincial safety standards.
"These elevator companies have a near monopoly on elevator operation in Ontario and they are holding public safety hostage as they attempt to wrest concessions from workers that will undermine job security and workplace safety standards," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "It is appalling that the Technical Standards Safety Authority has failed to adequately intervene to ensure public safety, but it is not surprising given that a chief negotiator for the elevator companies sits on the T.S.S.A. board of directors."
By order of provincial regulation, every elevator in Ontario must be inspected monthly for compliance with safety standards. With the strike now into its second month, virtually none of the affected elevators have received this inspection and it is estimated that 75 percent are in some form of disrepair. Yet the employer coalition has refused the offer of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (I.U.E.C.) Locals 50, 90 and 96 to continue to keep their members servicing elevators during bargaining.
"Wages are not even on the table. This strike is not about money, it is about safety: we want to protect it, our employers want to diminish it," said I.U.E.C. Business Representative Brad Farrell. "We have been forced on strike to keep experienced workers in the workplace and to ensure that lives aren't endangered by forcing lone mechanics to perform work that requires a crew. The companies cannot undermine staffing levels without compromising public safety."
The employer coalition has rejected the unions' concerns and refuses to come back to the table. Instead, the four elevator companies are protracting the dispute by using unqualified replacement workers and managers to perform the work of the specially-trained elevator mechanics.
"I'm astonished that the union's offer to keep working throughout bargaining was met with outright rejection by these employers," said OFL Ryan. "Every day that the employers refuse to negotiate, lives are being put at risk. We cannot wait for a serious accident to occur before employers are forced back to the bargaining table."
About the Ontario Federation of Labour
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. Visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter @OFLabour
Ontario Federation of Labour
Ontario Federation of Labour
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