Toronto commuters and businesses are bracing for a possible transit strike that could see the city grind to a halt just in time for the Monday morning rush.
Subways, streetcars and buses will stand idle as of 4 a.m. Monday unless the TTC reaches a contract settlement with its largest union by Sunday at 4 p.m. — the firm deadline announced by the union yesterday.
Even though both sides stressed they are still optimistic an agreement can be reached, officials and businesses throughout the city were making contingency plans for a possible Monday transit strike.
Police were already warning drivers to be prepared for full-out gridlock and to be on the lookout for hordes of pedestrians and cyclists.
Transit union president Bob Kinnear said he was disappointed to have to threaten such drastic action, though his union has been in a legal strike position since April 1.
“But we have a choice: We can take this action or continue to be second class in this city as far as wage and benefit packages in comparison to other city employees,” said Kinnear, who heads Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113.
Speaking to reporters from China, Mayor David Miller said it’s up to the elected TTC commissioners to handle the talks. “I’m in constant touch with my office and constantly briefed,” he said.
TTC?chair Adam Giambrone restated yesterday his commitment to remaining outside the negotiations.“I’m not getting involved,” he said. “The chair is not the one who should be doing the negotiating.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty urged both sides to work harder to reach a deal to avoid commuter chaos, saying, “Failure is not an option.”