Labourers and crane operators say they are getting slammed by inflation
The GTA’s high-flying residential construction sector faces a loss of altitude after at least 15,000 workers walked off the job Monday to strike for better wages and other improvements.
Members of the Labourers International Union of North America (LiUNA) and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) have hit picket lines.
“They deserve compensation that reflects their contributions to the industry,” said Jack Oliveira, of LiUNA, Local 183. “Our members work hard and are critical to building housing across the GTA.”
The labourers perform a variety of roles in residential construction, including house framers, tile , carpet and hardwood installers and performing a host of jobs needed in highrise construction.
“It is a difficult time for our members and their families these last two years due to the uncertainty caused by a pandemic which continues and now inflation,” Mike Gallagher, general manager of IUOE, Local 793, told Daily Commercial News.
“Rising cost of accommodation, fuel prices, hotels for out-of-town work, parking and meals are wreaking havoc on our members and their families’ pocketbook.”
The IUOE said employers refused to budge on a three-year increase amounting to 8.8% or 9.15%, depending on the job role.
The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) said – despite the strikes – it has already inked dozens of labour agreements.
“We are encouraged that a number of collective agreements have been settled,” said RESCON President Richard Lyall.
“There is no reason for work stoppages, and we hope that the arbitrated settlement will encourage other parties to return to the bargaining table.”
The council said it faces higher costs for materials, and pressure from government taxes.
Toronto continues to be the North American leader with cranes in use, according to construction consultants Rider Levett Bucknall.
In the first quarter of this year, Toronto had 252 cranes working on construction projects, far ahead of second place Los Angeles, which had 51.