Mount Pearl strike nears 2-month mark with growing rhetoric – and no end in sight


As the Mount Pearl municipal workers’ strike nears the two-month mark, negotiations have stalled as the union and city management trade public accusations of retaliation and dangerous tactics.

Last week, the city offered workers what it called a final offer, which included a 9% raise over four years, a $1,000 signing bonus and 18 days of sick leave for employees. new and existing, as well as the introduction of two days of personal leave. . Sick leave had been a sticking point earlier in negotiations, with the city offering reduced sick days for new hires.

But the union rejected the offer and on Friday workers burned copies of the proposal at a rally outside City Hall.

The president of Local 2099 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents about 200 workers on the picket line, said workers feared punishment for striking when they returned to work.

« We’ve heard loud and clear that they won’t be coming back to vote on the contract which sees their members – their siblings – with discipline letters on their back to work files because we know it won’t stop. not there when we get back,” Ken Turner said.

Mayor Dave Aker, who called Friday’s rally « rather traumatic, » said staff were told early in the strike that they would be held accountable for security breaches.

« But that doesn’t mean they’re going to be fired. It just means we want to make sure the environment is safe, » he said.

Aker referred to an incident in July in which striking workers in a truck cut off a city garbage truck, nearly causing a collision.

« So you have the 15 tonne garbage truck that had to slam on the brakes. It was a near miss…that put the lives of two people on the line. So we just want to make sure we’re aware that that’s wrong, » Akker said.

Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker says he is concerned about safety after an incident with a garbage truck and pickets. The union says it was trying to slow down garbage collection. (Radio Canada)

Turner attributed it to an inexperienced driver trying to slow down garbage pickup, and said obstructing traffic is something that often happens during strikes and on picket lines.

“Picketing is inherently dangerous,” he said.

The stalemate continues

The city and the union have been negotiating since March and the workers began their strike on July 7.

Both sides say they want to get back to the table, but Turner accused the city of acting in bad faith and negotiating in public. The mayor said the city made its bid public because residents deserved to know where the strike stood.

Strikers gather on the steps of Mount Pearl Town Hall on July 7. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Aker also said both sides made a lot of progress in the last round of negotiations, but Turner said City were adamant and kept moving the goalposts as they got closer to a deal.

He pointed out that City of St. John’s workers are getting an 11% raise and a signing bonus in his latest contract, and says he would like Mount Pearl workers to receive back-to-work pay, rather than a signing bonus, to compensate for lost wages.

The mayor said the two sides needed to find common ground.

“I think all of this can be resolved if CUPE accepts the compromise we put on the table during negotiations,” Aker said.

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