Bonfield mayor turns down offer of arbitration

Municipal strike continues

The municipal strike in Bonfield, Ont., continues after mayor Randall McLaren refused CUPE’s offer to send outstanding issues to arbitration by a neutral third party.

The offer would have allowed a speedy restoration of municipal services, ending the strike that began August 1.

“CUPE made every attempt to reach a settlement,” said the union’s Ontario regional director Linda Thurston-Neeley. “We were not able to come to an agreement… but offered to send outstanding issues to an independent arbitrator so our members could go back to serving the good people of Bonfield — an offer the mayor flatly rejected.”

In a press release the union indicated the employer is signing a six-month contract for snow removal and winter roads maintenance with a private operator. The contract reportedly contains no “out-clause” in the event of a settlement in the strike. The strike began in August after the mayor presented CUPE with potential concessions in its contract, including the possibility of contracting out services.

“It seems the mayor has no intention of settling this strike and allowing for the resumption of municipal services in Bonfield,” Thueston-Neeley said. “Signing a six-month contract binding the township to privatized services for a long period is irresponsible, and shows a total disrespect for our members and the people of Bonfield.”

CUPE filed charges of unfair labour practice against its employer for its actions throughout the strike as well as previous incidents. The charges are currently before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

“We remain committed to finding a solution that respects workers and the public, but Bonfield residents continue to be inconvenienced because this administration will not meet us half way,” Thurston-Neeley said. “We will continue to stand up for public services in Bonfield, and we urge the community to impress upon the mayor and council the importance of finding a resolve to this crisis.”

They mayor’s office could not be reached for comment.

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