Government may Intervene in Canadian GP Dispute
Friday June 9th, 2000
The provincial government has threatened to step in to end the dispute which threatens to cripple transport for the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix. The transport union has threatened to paralyze the event by walking off the job, the latest in a series of tactics to express the workers' dissatisfaction with contract talks.
Labour Minister Diane Lemieux said the transit commission and the union representing its workers will appear before the Essential Services Council today. It is expected that a contingency plan will be produced, that will ensure services to the circuit for the race weekend.
"There's very high stakes," Lemieux said. "That's what the Essential Services Council will be documenting over the next few days. There are health and safety considerations (at the Grand Prix). There are a lot of people who will need to be transported. We must examine a conflict like this from the perspective of health and safety."
Last year, 20,000 people per hour were moved to and from the race circuit using public transport.
The two sides have been having discussion for the last few days, with a resolution seeming to be a matter of time - they are planning to negotiate into the night in hope of breaking the stalemate before their date with the Essential Services Council.
"Obviously, we will continue to negotiate. We would like to see the talks bear fruit," said Odile Paradis, a spokesman for the workers, who declined to comment on the minister's remarks.
Lemieux said she remains hopeful that a settlement can be reached soon, but it's time to crank up the pressure to force a solution.
"We're trying to put some pressure on the parties, but if we see that things go badly, the legislator is always there," she said. "I'm still counting on the parties' good will in trying to solve this situation. The indications are rather promising, but we can't raise our hopes too much. I would like the solution to arise from the parties themselves. It's never desirable for a third party to step in."
Lemieux added that the squabble needs to be settled as soon as possible, and that it isn't likely any specific government action will be taken for the race weekend.