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Paul Clifford, president of UNITE HERE Local 57 speaks to media in Toronto, Ont. June 3/2010. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Paul Clifford, president of UNITE HERE Local 57 speaks to media in Toronto, Ont. June 3/2010. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Toronto

Toronto hotel workers authorize a strike Add to ...

Toronto's largest hotel workers union has voted to authorize strike action if contract negotiations break down, just weeks ahead of the tensely anticipated G20 summit.

Hotel workers voted 94 per cent in favour of striking, UNITE HERE Local 75 announced on Thursday.

The first hotel that could be affected is the Novotel Toronto Centre, where workers will walk off the job on June 23 or 24 if their contract demands are not met. That would be just days before the G20, which is being held on June 26 and 27.

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"That's likely to be the site of a labour dispute if there is not a collective agreement negotiated prior to that that's acceptable to our members," said Paul Clifford, president of the local.

Mr. Clifford said the union does not "expect to be" in a legal strike position at any other hotels before the summit.

"We want to both act responsibly for the G20 but also show that we are really determined to win a better standard for hotel workers, so that's why we're possibly engaging in a very limited strike action at the Novotel Toronto Centre," he said in an interview.

Mr. Clifford said the union intends to avoid strike activity that could further entangle the downtown core, where movement will already be restricted by a fence and other severe security measures.

Almost every hotel room in Toronto is booked during the G20, when an expected 15,000 visitors, including world leaders, will descend on the city.

Union representatives said the major issues on the negotiating table would be job security and workplace safety.

Strike authorization votes affecting 5,500 workers were taken at 32 Toronto hotels over the last three weeks, the union said.



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