TORONTO — The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario has issued a statement expressing frustration that there are no contract bargaining meetings scheduled for the next week with employers, as the strike by ICI carpenters looks set to extend into a second week Monday.
The May 12 statement came after meetings that day with the employer bargaining agency. Union negotiators say they made it clear they wanted to negotiate for a deal the next day and the following week but, the statement said, “The employers took the position that they can’t meet with us tomorrow or next week because ‘they need more time to gather data to present to the union’ prior to restarting the negotiations.”
“It is incredibly disappointing that this group of employers wants to hold hostage millions (if not billions) of dollars’ worth of construction, much of which involves critical infrastructure, because they are unprepared,” stated Carpenters’ president Mike Yorke in the statement. “The Carpenters’ understand the severe consequences that this delay brings to Ontario’s economy. The construction industry is vital, employing over 500,000 workers and worth over $50 billion annually.”
The statement urged the employers to return to the bargaining table as quickly as possible.
“Stalling these negotiations for 12 days or even longer will have a hugely detrimental effect across Ontario,” stated Yorke.
The Carpenters Employer Bargaining Agency (CEBA) did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On March 9 the CEBA issued a statement saying it is “disappointed to hear that (the Carpenters) have elected to take their members out on strike.
“The CEBA values and respects the skilled tradespersons who make up the membership of the Carpenters’ and we worked diligently to avoid this outcome by directly and fairly negotiating with representatives of the union.”
The parties had reached a tentative settlement but the workers rejected it in provincewide voting, leading to the job action.
“We remain committed to the bargaining process and are looking to re-engage the Carpenters’ leadership to discuss the best path forward to resolving this strike,” the CEBA statement continued.
Operating engineers and demolition workers in the ICI sector are also on strike as jobsites across the province are impacted by labour disruptions.
Three-year contracts in Ontario’s ICI sector expired April 30.