Ontario plumbers, pipefitters return to work after week-long strike
June 12, 2019 by Jillian Morgan
WHITBY, Ont.—Just a week after Ontario plumbers and steamfitters walked off the job over work hours and hiring practices, the two labour organizations involved in the dispute have struck a deal.
The Ontario Pipe Trades Council said June 11 it has reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement with the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario, effectively ending the seven-day strike of 12,000 workers.
“We have been proud of a long period of labour harmony in our sector, but felt we had no choice but to take action to protect values we hold dear,” said Ross Tius, chairman of the OPTC bargaining committee, in a release. “It is certainly good news that we have reached a settlement after months of talks that made little progress.”
Ahead of the vote on June 6, United Association Local 46 — the Toronto chapter of the the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry — said in a Facebook post that “work hours remain as currently written in the collective agreement” and encouraged members to vote in favour of the deal.
OPTC said the new agreement “preserves the flexibility” of the sector’s work hours.
The new agreement also includes a 6.7 per cent wage increase over three years. Just under 80 per cent of members voted in favour of the deal, with 20.15 per cent voting against.
OPTC members hit the picket line for the first time in 30 years June 1 after negotiations reached an impasse. OPTC said the contractor association had refused to budge on its demand for a 40-hour work week. According to the council, MCAO also proposed changes to union hiring halls.
The Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario declined to comment.