Over the past year or so, collective agreement after collective agreement has come up for renewal and has been successfully renegotiated at the ONTC. However, the agreement covering maintenance and refurbishment staff has proven to be much harder to resolve.
On the one side, the ONTC remains committed to building a new business in order to follow the government-mandated mission to become commercially competitive. On the other, employees represented by Unifor feel that their job security and current benefits are being erased from the proposal being put forward by Ontario Northland.
Things came to a head Wednesday when the Unifor unit 12 employees were locked out by management. Not surprisingly, employees saw this as an unfair bargaining tactic designed to force the new agreement. It seems that this view was shared by the Canada Industrial Relations Board, who ruled the lockout illegal and ordered that it be ended Thursday morning. It seems that the ONTC had given insufficient notice of the lockout and forced its workers off the job without the required warning.
Labour negotiations are often contentious, but while I think it is clear that the ONTC is here to stay, it seems that becoming "competitive" may override the wellbeing of its workforce.