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Toronto Strikers Back on the Job

July 13, 2002|From Associated Press

TORONTO — Garbage collectors ordered back to work under emergency legislation began removing heaps of trash Friday in an effort to clean up Canada's largest city before Pope John Paul II arrives this month.

To end the largest strike by municipal workers in Canadian history, the government Thursday approved a bill to settle stalled negotiations between the city of 2.5 million people and its employees.

The strike began June 26, leaving uncollected garbage--in some areas piled more than 6 feet high and stretching the length of a city block--to rot and stink in hot summer weather. It also closed swimming pools and day-care centers while reducing public health inspections.

In announcing the legislation that forces the workers back to work while the labor dispute goes to binding arbitration, Ontario Premier Ernie Eves cited the threat of a public health hazard.

Local politicians also worried that Toronto's image would suffer if the mess remained on the streets when the pope arrives for a week of World Youth Day activities that begin July 22.

Workers wanted guarantees of job security if the city contracted out their work to private companies. Mayor Mel Lastman repeatedly rejected their demands.

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