OPSEU, province sit down to talk

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QUEEN’S PARK, Ont. — With Ontario’s 45,000 government workers doing little more than manning pickets, hauling placards and chanting slogans for three weeks, efforts will be made to end the strike.

Today labor contract mediators are bringing together bargainers from the province’s Management Board and the Ontario Public Services Employees Union (CUPE) at 1 p.m.

Management Board Chair David Tsubouchi says the province is committed to ending the strike with a deal, “fair to employees and responsible to the taxpayers of Ontario.”

OPSEU president Leah Casselman welcomes the resumption of talks, saying the union has always been prepared to bargain.

A news blackout has been imposed by Ministry of Labour mediators as they attempt to bring the two sides together.

The trucking industry has been greatly affected by the work stoppage, but the province is taking steps to mitigate the hassles. To this end, Ontario is offering carriers a temporary solution to overweight/overdimensional moves.

Unable to obtain single trip permits for these loads, the economic impact of not moving loads consisting of capital goods like plant parts and equipment is enormous. Ontario manufacturers rely on this very specialized service to keep plants open and workers working.

Essentially, the solution allows for a special amendment to existing annual permits while single trip permits are not available. According to the Ontario Trucking Association, the amendment allows for weights and dimensions that exceed the annual permit limits as follows:

— annual permit limits for height (4.26 m) and width (3.7 m. on 2-lane/3.85 m. on multi-lane highways);
— overall length up to 28 metres with an overhang provision;
— an interim weight allowed to exceed 63,500kg for specified configurations.

However, carriers must notify the Ministry of Transportation of the intended move at least four hours in advance, and agree to make payment for the prescribed single trip permit after the strike. A special application form has been developed.

The ministry has also asked all U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions to recognize the extension of expired driver’s licences until the end of labor disruption.

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