Following months of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) refusing to negotiate a fair deal with striking safety inspectors, OPSEU/SEFPO has filed an Unfair Labour Practice/Bad Faith Bargaining complaint and applied for First Contract Arbitration.
Examples of some of the outrageous demands made by the TSSA include: a lengthy 14-step wage grid subject to the employer’s “satisfactory performance rating” that ignores seniority and is out of step with industry standards; unilateral control by the employer over employees’ independent medical examinations; no compensation for travel time to inspection sites; and vacation time language that amounts to wage theft and a violation of the Employment Standards Act.
It is also apparent that the TSSA pays the few women inspectors at significantly lower rates than male inspectors with less continuous service. This is a violation of the Equal pay for equal work provisions of the Employment Standards Act.
“OPSEU/SEFPO has a sincere wish to achieve a collective agreement so inspectors can get back to the work of keeping our communities safe,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “But the TSSA has taken an implacable position and are unwilling to negotiate.”
The 170 safety inspectors of OPSEU/SEFPO local 546 are trying to negotiate their first contract with the TSSA. The inspectors were forced to go on strike July 21 after their employer walked away from the bargaining table.
OPSEU/SEFPO has made several attempts to get the TSSA to return to the bargaining table, including a reasonable counter proposal to the employer more than three weeks ago that made significant moves in more than 50 areas. In response, the TSSA remained steadfast in their refusal to return to bargaining.
“These inspectors unionized because they have issues and concerns with their working conditions that they want the TSSA to address and they want to have their voices heard,” said Hornick. “Instead of showing their employees the respect they deserve, the TSSA has tried to punish them by removing long established benefits and making demands that violate basic statutory rights.”
Despite the TSSA’s ‘take it or leave it’ position, OPSEU/SEFPO remains committed to negotiating with the employer, while awaiting a decision from the Ontario Labour Relations Board concerning first contract arbitration.