Mayor David Miller called on the city's 24,000 workers to end their strike, telling a news briefing that enough is enough.

With strikers loudly chanting and yelling outside Metro Hall, Miller said Friday that some progress has been made at the bargaining table in the past few days.

But he noted that the strike has inconvenienced about 2.5 million Torontonians over its 12-day length, and he made particular note of low-income children. "There are many children in our city who don't have alternatives to publicly-run recreation programs or access to city-run pools, and they're being severely hurt by this strike," he said.

"I want to say to the unions, and to the people they represent, enough is enough. There has been progress at the bargaining table this week. Now is the time to end this strike, allow children in Toronto the opportunity to use public services and allow us to get back to normal," he said.

A deal could be reached quickly if both sides worked "extremely hard and recognize the fiscal constraints of Toronto," Miller said, adding much of the progress had come on non-monetary issues.

However, Miller repeated his mantra about the monetary terms for a deal:

  • it has to be affordable
  • it must take into account the city's finances and the fact the world has changed since the recession struck last fall
  • it must allow the city to run effectively and efficiently

The union's contract expired on Dec. 31. The strike began on June 22.

The union has been angry over the city's desire to end the practice of allowing union members to bank unused sick days and cash them in for up to six month's pay at the time of retirement. Some analysts have said that previous municipal governments agreed to that provision in order to defer wage increases.

The union is also upset over changes the city wants with respects to seniority and recall rights in the event of layoffs.

City council has come under fire from some quarters for voting a 2.42 per cent pay raise for itself while seeking concessions from workers.

Miller said he isn't looking for a legislated end to the strike, saying the best settlements are negotiated ones. He also conceded that one "never knows what can happen" when a dispute gets sent to an arbitrator.

City officials say about 300 workers have asked to return to the work since the strike began.

In a news release issued Friday evening, Mark Ferguson, president of Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 CUPE (the outside workers), and Ann Dembinski, president of CUPE Local 79 (the inside workers), said, "Fairness is what this strike is about.

"The city of Toronto is trying to exact concessions from its direct employees that were never asked of other unionized workers -- police, fire, parking, housing, hydro -- who provide public services in this city. The city is reneging on promises made to workers who have spent their careers working for the people of Toronto," they said.

"We believe a settlement and an end to this strike can be reached quickly if the city withdraws its concession demands and shows respect for its employees with equal treatment. Enough is enough, Mayor Miller? Tell it to your negotiators!"