Ninety-five signal and communication workers at Toronto’s Union Station are on strike, seeking pay and benefit increases to keep up with skyrocketing inflation.
The workers, who manage the movement of more than 330 trains in and out of the station, have been without a contract since late 2019.
With Canadian workers facing 6.7 per cent inflation in March, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers business manager Steve Martin said the union is seeking wage and benefit increases to keep up.
After rejecting a paltry offer in October, the workers voted 98.5 per cent in favor of strike action. But management still failed to improve its offer.
“It has been made abundantly clear to us that the company is not willing to consider or revisit any of the union’s proposed items to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement other than minimal insignificant changes to the original settlement,” Martin said.
With the deadline set for 12:01 AM on the morning of April 20, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins told Newstalk 1010 that Toronto Terminals Railway had a “contingency plan” for supervisors to take over the workers’ jobs “for the time being.”
This isn’t the first time management has done so—back in 2016, the union alleged that supervisors were dispatched to do the work of unionized staff, to undermine their job security.
But these supervisors clearly aren’t capable of replacing the workers. “If it goes on in a protracted strike that will be more difficult to manage,” Aikins said, “It’s very busy. It’s very important that you manage that really carefully—just like air traffic controllers—or you’ll have trains bumping into each other.”
Still management would rather imperil the public at Canada’s busiest transit hub, than pay its workers enough to match inflation.
With rising inflation, any wage or benefit “increase” below 6.7 per cent is effectively a pay cut. And a pay cut for the rail workers will embolden management elsewhere.
The whole labour movement must support the fight of the Union Station signal workers and, principally, refuse to cross picket lines.
Victory to the Union Station workers!
Strike Against Inflation!
Picket Lines Mean Do Not Cross!