Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's been just over a month....

...since civic workers in Toronto began strike action. I've seen many different reactions in the city, the loudest coming from people who live near temporary dump sites. Although the strike covers many different jobs, it centres around waste pick-up. In my area, which happens to be the only area in the city now with contracted out waste pick-up, the only thing not being picked up is garden waste. I haven't heard a single person in my area complain about any of the other services not being available.

We see picketers every day at the water filtration plant down the street. These are the most laid-back picketers I've ever seen. They set up lawn chairs and lounge around mostly. I saw some lap-tops out there the other day. I'm sure there are some management people crossing the line to keep the plant going but we don't see that.

I ask people all the time what they think. What's fair? How should the strike be settled. Nobody seems anxious for back-to-work legislation. The weather has been cool and that has kept the smell down at the dumpsites. Mostly, I find people are not talking about it. Residents are dealing with their garbage in different ways, and coping with the lack of other services as best they can. We take a core fitness class in a city building and the class has simply moved outside. In some areas, people have "taken back their parks" and gone out with lawn mowers to clean up the soccer fields. Overall, I would say the city is remarkably clean given the circumstances.

One fellow I talk to has suggested a compromise based on a grandfathering scheme. Some people find the city's last offer, which includes sick-time payouts up to something like $8,000, quite attractive. A number of people I've spoken with seem generally sympathetic with workers being asked to give up something they've previously bargained for, but at the same time are not so sympathetic on the specific issue.

Mayor Miller is starting to give refunds to people who have paid and registered for various programs. As of this morning, I've heard no talk of refunds on waste collection. I wonder how the whole business effects the city balance sheet?

So far, residents are coping. There is no sign of a settlement on the horizon.


Karen said...

I'm surprised that it's gone on this long. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out in the end. Glad to hear though that some citizens are taking it upon themselves to do things like the park cleanup and maintenance.

mister anchovy said...

It looks like Windsor settled today, and I heard on the news that the Toronto union has presented a counter-offer. Hopefully they'll make some progress toward a settlement.