April 18, 2008 / 8:45 PM / 10 years ago

Transit strike expected to hit Toronto on Monday

TORONTO (Reuters) - Commuters in Canada’s biggest city will likely face a long, slow trip to work on Monday morning, as a strike by members of Toronto’s main transit union looks virtually certain, a source close to the contract talks said on Friday.

The person, who asked not to be identified, said talks between the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Toronto Transit Commission had broken down.

“The TTC, as early as this morning, has told the union there is no more,” the source said.

“They are not putting anything on the table and this follows the union’s press conference where they said if there is not an acceptable offer by Sunday at 4 p.m., there will be a strike on Monday morning. So, it looks bad.”

The TTC carries more than 1.5 million passengers every weekday.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113, which represents nearly 9,000 TTC employees, said the main issues are benefits and compensation.

It said its workers have a substandard benefits package compared with Toronto city workers, and that TTC employees are paid less than those at other transit authorities in smaller cities surrounding Toronto.

The union source said the top mediator in the province, Reg Pearson, who has been involved in negotiations between the TTC and its union in the past, has been called in to help get the two sides talking again.

The TTC is not commenting on the negotiations.

“As the Toronto Transit Commission continues to talk with its unions today and over the weekend, TTC Chair Adam Giambrone will not comment on progress until there is news to report,” it said in a statement.

Toronto Mayor David Miller issued a similar statement. The union has called on Miller to get involved in the talks.

The union has been in a legal position to strike since April 1.

The TTC staged a one-day illegal walkout in May 2006, stranding commuters and costing the TTC around C$3 million ($3 million) in lost revenues.

The last legal walkout by TTC workers was in 1999 and lasted two days before the province legislated the union back to work.

($1=$1 Canadian)

Editing by Rob Wilson

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