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Town’s outside workers planning Thursday strike action

Oakville Town Hall | M Painchaud
Oakville Town Hall | M Painchaud

The town's 285 employees who work at parks, arenas, pools, community centres and on road crews are expected to be off the job as of Nov. 2, 2023.

CUPE 136, which represents the workers, says a strike is "highly likely" because the town has not returned to the bargaining table since calling for a no board report that started a 17-day countdown to a strike or lockout.

"We didn’t ask for this," said CUPE 136 president Peter Knafelc. "We wanted to continue to have fruitful discussions. They shut it down."

The two sides have met for only nine days since the collective agreement for the town’s outside workers expired in February, he added.

Knafelc said the town offered to return to negotiations on Nov. 2, but only providing the union agreed not to strike.

The two parties last met four weeks ago on Tuesday, Oct. 3, when the town offered a four-year deal with annual wage increases of 3.25, 3.25, 3 and 3.25 per cent.

Benefits, shift schedules and the use of temporary workers are also under discussion as part of a new deal.

The town’s wage offer doesn’t keep pace with inflation and is less than recent deals reached in other Ontario municipalities, including Burlington, according to a letter posted on the union's website.

"Oakville is one of the richest municipalities in Ontario, if not Canada. Why can’t the employees of the town of Oakville be the highest paid municipal employees?" Knafelc said.

"Somebody has to be the highest paid municipal employee. We give service second to none. We have the biggest leaf collection in all of Canada."

Leaf collection on residential streets is one of many services that will be disrupted if a strike does go ahead on Thursday.

Pools, arenas and community centres will be closed, along with leash-free dog parks and park washrooms.

For full details on what will be affected, see the town’s labour relations page.

A town press release says it is "committed to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement with CUPE 136 that balances the needs of employees with responsibilities to taxpayers."

The town also used that press release to announce that it has reached a tentative agreement with its inside (office) workers, represented by CUPE 1329.

Details of that deal will be announced if union members ratify the agreement in a vote to be held later this week. Town councillors voted to ratify the deal on Oct. 30.