UPDATE (6:30PM): TTC talks break off. From the Toronto Star:
Talks have concluded between the TTC and its largest union. It will be up to the province to legislate the 9,000 workers back to the job by Monday morning. The talks failed today because the union was looking at a number of amendments to the tentative settlement reached last Sunday, a TTC spokesperson said.
Update (6:05PM): NDP leader Howard Hampton has declared that his caucus will support the back-to-work legislation being tabled at an emergency meeting of the Ontario legislature Sunday afternoon. With the legislation having now received all-party support, barring an illegal strike by ATU Local 113, this means TTC service will be back on for Monday morning.
Earlier in the day, Progressive Conservative leader John Tory gave support in principle to the bill. However, Hampton has refused to state a position on the issue before seeing the bill, saying it would be “irresponsible” to agree to vote for something he hasn’t seen. Following a technical briefing provided by Ministry of Labour officials to go over the details of the proposed legislation, Hampton said he will support it because it is essentially the same bill his party supported during the 2002 strike by garbage workers.
As previously reported, Premier Dalton McGuinty has signed an order-in-council to have the legislature sit tomorrow afternoon at 1:30PM. The order was signed just after noon today. By law, the government cannot call an emergency meeting with less than 24 hours notice.Though Tory has pledged his support in principle for a return to work bill, the PC leader urged the government to include an “ability to pay” clause in the legislation to ensure an arbitrated settlement is affordable to taxpayers. However, arbitrators’ decisions always take into account the ability of management to pay an award, making this position more about style than substance.
Around 12:30 this afternoon, Mayor David Miller appeared on CP24 to discuss the current situation and next steps. While acknowledging the union’s legal right to walk off the job, Miller expressed great disappointment in the union leadership for leaving Torontonians in the lurch.
Miller also said that though TTC management is returning to the bargaining table, it would be very difficult to negotiate with a union executive that could not “keep its word” or deliver its members’ support for the tentative agreement.
Miller, Hampton and Tory have all declined to comment on whether they will call on the provincial government to make the TTC an essential service.
Photograph by Cannon Fodder.