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Progress made in TTC talks

Parties address ‘arbitrary’ firing

Legal strike date only days away


TTC workers vowed not to strike yesterday as long as negotiations continued to be “productive” as Friday’s legal strike date inches closer.

“We’re talking, so that’s a positive thing,” said Bob Kinnear, president of Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. “The last couple of weeks haven’t been all that productive, but we did have some substantial movement today, this afternoon, on both sides.”

The 8,000 workers of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 will be in a strike position following midnight Thursday, meaning the city could suffer through massive gridlock if buses, streetcars and subways stop operating.

Kinnear said commuters should be worried about a strike, but added: “Our organization is going to do everything we possibly can to ensure that we’re not forced into a position of (striking). In saying that there’s always that potential. We would continue talking as long as things are being productive. That could change tomorrow.”

The TTC did not elaborate on the talks. Earlier this month, the workers voted 99 per cent against a five-year offer that included a 2 per cent wage hike in each of the next three years and benefit improvements.

Kinnear said that there was movement yesterday on the importance of non-monetary items.

He said the union wants the TTC to beef up its pension contributions to make up for concessions granted in 1996, and wants to put an end to the “arbitrary” dismissal of drivers who arrive at their destinations ahead of schedule more than three times in one year.

“If you’re early by four minutes three times within a year, you’re fired,” said Kinnear. “It’s completely unreasonable.

“They don’t factor in construction, weather. We operate on the same schedule in January as we do in May. That’s a real concern.”

A TTC bus driver earns anywhere from $18 to $24 an hour. The union also represents administrative clerks, who start at about $16 an hour, and maintenance staff such as mechanics, machinists and technicians, who at the high end earn about $28-$30 an hour.

“We have not had any discussion up to this point regarding wages,” said Kinnear.

“We recognize they’re in a cash crunch right now. But our members made substantial concessions in ‘96 because the same argument was being brought to us. Here we are nine years later and the same argument is being made to us.”

The last negotiations, in 2002, went to the wire. The workers went without a contract for a week before settling on a 9 per cent raise over three years. TTC workers went on strike for two days in 1999.

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