City waste collection workers refuse to work on ice-coated trucks and sidewalks

About 60 city waste collection workers refused work Wednesday after freezing rain coated trucks and sidewalks with ice.

The workers have done their jobs through all sorts of weather, said Barry Conway, vice-president of the outdoor unit of CUPE Local 5167. But the ice made conditions treacherous as it coated steps and handles on trucks, and sidewalks workers trek across to collect household waste.

The city says all recycling will be collected today. Garbage and green cart collection has been delayed below the Mountain and in Dundas and Flamborough. If your waste hasn’t been collected by 6 p.m. today, the city says, bring it in and put it out Thursday morning before 7 a.m.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating. Conway said the ministry deemed the city’s six side loaders safe, and the city deployed them to Flamborough around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. The ministry is still inspecting the rest of the fleet.

Conway said the workers filed the work refusal when they arrived for their 7 a.m. shifts. Then the union tried to work out an alternate waste collection plan with the city.

The sidewalks on James Street North are covered by ice. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

The city, he said, should have some compassion. Waste collection workers have physical jobs with high injury rates.

“I can’t stress enough, these are employees who go out in any working conditions,” he said. “They take great pride in the job they do.”

But when sidewalks and trucks they jump on and off of are this icy, “it’s not safe.”

Dan McKinnon, general manager of public works, issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon asking residents to be patient during the delays.