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Ontario votes to strip TTC workers of right to strike

A TTC subway station sign. TTC riders boarding a streetcar. Service on the 504 King and bus routes will increase starting Jan. 5, 2014. Photo by Cameron Walker

TORONTO, Ont. – The province voted, Wednesday, to make the TTC an essential service, effectively stripping transit workers of their right to strike.

Labour leaders have strongly objected to the bill, which will ban all public strikes and lockouts for transit employees in Canada’s most populous city.

The bill was passed with a vote of 68-9, clearing the path to make “the better way” an essential service.

New Democratic Party members were the only ones to vote against the legislation, with the Tory and the Liberal majority siding together to push the bill through.

The bill is set to receive royal assent now that it has passed its third reading at Queen’s Park.

The city and Ontario’s Liberal government had wanted the legislation to pass before the union’s contract expires on Thursday. Mayor Rob Ford was said to be a driving force behind the bill.

“People depend on it every day, and we can’t have them going out on strike, and they’re not going to,” Ford told 680News.

Now that transit workers can no longer walk off the job, if a contract cannot be reached during negotiations, a third-party arbitrator would be appointed to settle the dispute.

A similar system is in place for both the Toronto Police and Toronto Fire Services, which are also considered essential services in the city.

A strike by the TTC loses the city an estimated $50-million daily.

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