The chair of the Toronto Police Services Board fired off a public statement this afternoon that condemned the Toronto Police Association for starting the â€œblame gameâ€ following a breakdown in the mediated contract negotiations that had been ongoing for the past week.
In a confusing media release distributed electronically by the Toronto Police Service (it didn’t attribute the statement to anyone, however, it was cross-posted to chair Alok Mukherjee’s blog), Mukherjee derides police association president Dave Wilson for, one assumes, the comments he made in today’s Toronto Star article on the status of labour negotiations.
â€œI find it ironic in the extreme that Dave Wilson should be talking about respect and fairness when he shows absolutely no respect towards a very important party, the public.â€
Mukherjee also stated publicly for the first time that the TPSB offered its unionized employees a nine per cent pay increase over three years. According to the Star, Wilson had identified pay as the stumbling block in negotiations, saying that the police board wouldn’t make his members the highest paid police officers in the country. However, Mukherjee, in that same article, contended that pay isn’t an issue and Wilson, in fact, has a â€œlaundry listâ€ of expensive, non-salary demands of the TPS.
A first year constable in the 5,510-member police force made $50,057 last year.
Because police officers are recognized as an essential service, outstanding issues will go to an arbitrator for a final decision. Mukherjee says that arbitration, which hasn’t been necessary for a Toronto police contract in more than 10 years, will begin early this fall.
Disputes between the TPA and the TPS have proven volatile over the years. In the recent past, police have brought public pressure on their employer by wearing union toques instead of the hat that is part of their uniform. And, in 2005, the police association organized a controversial rally in front of city hall where on-duty and armed officers allegedly participated in political activities.
Sensing the need to be on the side of the public, Mukherjee finished his statement with this shot: â€œI understand that the TPA is limited to serving its members and, as Chair, I respect that role. However, the Board has a number of interests to serve and to balance besides those of the members. These include: the City, the residents and the taxpayers.â€
Photograph by Bitpicture.