TORONTO — More than 400 employees at the Toronto Zoo have walked off the job to back their contract demands.
CUPE Local 1600 says the walkout began at midnight Wednesday at Canada’s largest zoo after the two sides failed to come to terms on the key issue of job security.
“We are incredibly disappointed to have to take strike action, but the Toronto Zoo’s refusal to move on job security left us with no alternative,” said local president Christine McKenzie in a statement.
The union said picket lines would go up at the zoo’s entrances in east end Toronto and that workers were being asked to show up at their regular shift times, but to report for picket duty.
It was unclear whether the zoo would be open for business on Thursday morning.
McKenzie said the union’s bargaining committee remains ready to quickly resume negotiations and urged zoo management to provide their negotiating team with the “flexibility they need to conclude bargaining.”
“We have numerous animals on the verge of giving birth, a new health centre supposed to open, and thousands of animals that won’t be getting the level of care they should be getting,” she said.
“Ultimately, that ball is in the employer’s court.”
The 400 workers include zookeepers, maintenance, administration, ride operators, public relations staff, concession and ride operators.