Town outside workers strike forces postponment of Oakville Blades junior hockey games

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Published November 3, 2023 at 10:13 am

Sixteen Mile Sports Complex
Sixteen Mile Sports Complex, home of the Oakville Blades hockey club

The strike by outside workers and facility operators in Oakville has already had an impact on the sporting world, with tonight’s game between the visiting Buffalo Jr. Sabres and the Oakville Blades at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex postponed.

“This is beyond our control,” the team said on its website Thursday of the strike by the Town’s outside workers, represented by CUPE Local 136 which has forced the closure of arenas and community centres – including Sixteen Mile Creek – until the contract dispute is resolved. “We thank you for your understanding. We will keep you informed of the situation as we learn more.”

The Junior A hockey club, which is coached by Oshawa Generals legend Scott McCrory and is scheduled to host the Centennial Cup national championship next spring, has a pair of home games next weekend on Friday, November 10 against Milton and Saturday, November 11 vs Collingwood.

Picket lines were established Thursday morning and the fallout was immediate, with facilities in Oakville closed and recreation and culture facility rentals and programs cancelled due to the labour impasse between the Town and CUPE Local 136.

The two sides are at odds over a number of issues, notably wages that have not kept up with inflation. The Town claims the union rejected an offer last month of wage hikes worth12.75 per cent over four years, a “significant” enhancement to vacation entitlement as well as increases to shift premiums, meal and tool allowances and the introduction of compassionate care leave top up payments.

“We are disappointed that CUPE 136 has decided to commence its strike,” said Oakville CAO Jane Clohecy, who declared the Town will return to bargaining for “meaningful conversations” about the issues that led to the impasse, “provided we have a partner who is also open to these conversations to substantially bridge the gap between the parties and reach a deal.” 

The union, however, questions the honesty of the Town’s negotiating team and said its workers are on strike partly because the Town chose to delay talks, rather than to come to the table and “negotiate a fair deal.”

The striking workers received support Thursday from CUPE’s National Secretary Treasurer, Candace Rennick, who was on hand to send “solidarity” to those on the picket lines.

“They are holding strong and fighting for a fair contract that helps members keep up with the cost of living,” she said. “The strength of 740,000 fellow CUPE members is behind you. One day longer, one day stronger.”

The Town says it plans to limit the disruption of a strike as much as possible and ensure that essential service delivery, and health and safety related matters are prioritized.

Visit the Labour Relations page on oakville.ca for a complete listing of all impacted services.

Photo Candace Rennick

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