TORONTO, Ont. – The head of the major Toronto transit union said it won’t strike during upcoming contract talks, even if legislation to prevent a walkout is not yet on the books.
But, Bob Kinnear, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said he wants a proposed law that would declare the TTC an essential service to be debated properly by MPP’s in the Ontario legislature.
Even when contracts expire at the end of March, he said trains will keep rolling.
“We’ll not strike or disrupt service in any way during this year’s contract negotiations,” Kinnear said. “We will act as if an essential service law is already in effect.”
“We will negotiate in good faith to reach a voluntary agreement with the TTC as we usually do.”
Kinnear added that if such talks fail, they will pass it off to arbitration.
In exchange, the province is being asked to take its time with the essential service law and allow public input.
TTC chair Karen Stintz said the city wants it done before contracts end.
“We are working towards a time frame, but as I say, if we can reach that agreement in another way, working with the union, then we’re willing to engage in those discussions,” she said.
“How they get there – I don’t believe the riders of Toronto care. What they care about is their service is there when they need it.”
Kinnear said the union will negotiate in good faith and pass it off to arbitration if talks stall.
Meanwhile, Premier McGuinty has not committed to anything.
“We haven’t made any final decisions about what exactly we’re going to do, and how we would move […] I’m not saying how much time we’re going to take.”
“But I am saying that at this point in time, we’re still listening.”