Toronto, ON — Ontario’s safety inspectors are officially on strike. Today marks the second day of the strike, which is province-wide, as inspectors walked off the job site on July 21.
The OPSEU union represents safety inspectors at the TSSA and made the decision to strike on July 21 after contract negotiations broke down the previous afternoon. As a result, 170 safety inspectors walked off the job Thursday.
“In order to prevent a strike, the TSSA bargaining team provided OPSEU a full proposal which includes all terms for a first collective agreement and offers inspectors excellent health, dental and pension benefits, and salary increases for a multi-year agreement,” said Laura Desjardins, VP of human resources at TSSA. “Unfortunately, the union stopped negotiating directly with TSSA after the first few meetings and gave indications of their strike intentions. We are concerned with OPSEU’s deliberately false communications that suggest we are not bargaining in good faith.”
OPSEU/SEFPO Local 546 TSSA safety inspectors issued a statement in response to the strike and called on its members to unite and stay focused on achieving a fair deal. They also stated that the TSSA has spread misinformation regarding the latest offer. As such, OPSEU shared what was brought to the bargaining table.
This includes overtime for work completed stat holidays — the TSSA proposed 1.5-times pay but the current policy is two times the pay. When the bargaining team pointed out this discrepancy to the employer, they indicated that this was an oversight, according to OPSEU.
Additionally, the current policy would provide a half-day shut down on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but the TSSA did not agree to this, reports OPSEU.
The bargaining team also asked for flexible scheduling as per the current policy. But according to the union, “The TSSA was unaware that they had a flexible scheduling policy. The bargaining team had to show the employer that they had a policy on flexible scheduling. The TSSA did not agree to this.”
A proposal was made to differentiate between full-time and part-time, whereas a full-time inspector would work more than 20 hours and a part-time inspector would work anything less than full-time. The TSSA wants full-time to be classified as working 40 hours and part-time as anything less. “This means that if a full-time inspector works less than 40 hours they may be classified as part-time and may be ineligible for benefits,” reports OPSEU. The TSSA did not agree to this.
As for vacation time, the bargaining team is looking for there to be no cap on vacation usage and the ability to carry over 10 vacation days, per the current policy. But according to the union, the TSSA wants to put a two-week cap on vacation time with no ability to carry over vacation days. They state that this is inconsistent with current policies.
OPSEU is also looking for an increase in its paramedical and vision care which has not yet been agreed upon. “The bargaining team is suspicious of the employer’s intentions because this means that if there are any cost increases to the benefit and short-term disability insurance premiums the employer may have the ability to make employees pay for part of the benefit and short-term disability insurance premiums if they want to maintain the same or better benefits,” according to the union. “Long-term disability premiums have increased approximately 25 per cent for employees and the union asked that employees have input in the decision-making process prior to any changes taking place for long-term disability benefits because employees are paying for it.”
As part of independent medical examinations, the TSSA wants the ability to send an employee for an IME examination. According to the union, this means that an employee will have to attend to the employer’s medical doctor who will request and get access to your personal medical file from your doctor.
A schedule for where the picket line is located can be found on the OPSEU website.
“Tomorrow, we continue the strike for safety to demand that the TSSA get back to the bargaining table to negotiate fairly! Enough of the stonewalling, intimidation, and manipulation,” said OPSEU in a press release. “We all deserve respect and we deserve a fair collective agreement.”
More updates to come.