TORONTO – The union representing striking Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) inspectors has filed a bad-faith bargaining complaint and applied for first-contract arbitration with the Ontario Labour Relations Board as the inspectors’ job action reaches the two-month mark.
The TSSA has been undertaking inspections by internal managers and third-party inspectors since the 170 TSSA inspectors, members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 546, went on strike July 21.
Safety inspectors are responsible for inspections of several aspects of construction sites and elevating devices as well as inspecting fuel-burning equipment, propane-refuelling stations, amusement-park rides, food trucks and elements in nuclear power plants.
Examples of what it termed unacceptable demands by the TSSA cited by the union included the implementation of a 14-step wage grid that ignores seniority and is subject to a “satisfactory performance rating,” and a lack of travel time compensation.
The union also said in some cases female inspectors are paid less than males.
The two sides have not met since July 20, when the TSSA presented a first-contract offer. Both sides accuse the other of refusing to return to the bargaining table.
TSSA vice-president of communications Alexandra Campbell has said, “We truly negotiated in good faith. Our key objective was to be able to get a good first agreement in place with OPSEU for the inspectors. We value them, we value the work, their contributions.”
Campbell said the TSSA will be responding to OPSEU’s applications to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
OPSEU’s claims of illegal demands and take-aways are completely inaccurate, she said, adding the TSSA does not treat female inspectors differently and there are no differences in how they are compensated compared to male inspectors.
“The labour board is the party to review OPSEU claims and our responses, once they are filed, and will determine if their complaints have any validity,” Campbell said. “We are willing to continue to meet with OPSEU once they make a reasonable offer that is clearly aimed at reaching an agreement that could work for both parties.”
“OPSEU/SEFPO has a sincere wish to achieve a collective agreement so inspectors can get back to the work of keeping our communities safe,” stated OPSEU/SEFPO president JP Hornick. “But the TSSA has taken an implacable position and are unwilling to negotiate.”