Exhibition Place locks out technical and stage workers ahead of upcoming CNE

Jul 20 2018, 6:04 pm

Less than a month before the start of the Canadian National Exhibition, workers who provide technical and staging expertise for events in major venues at Exhibition Place have been locked out.

IATSE Local 58, the union that represents the workers, says the lockout comes after months of negotiations for a new collective agreement and that “it was clear from the outset of talks that the Board of Governors did not want to reach an agreement.”

The affected venues include BMO Field, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Coca-Cola Coliseum, Enercare Centre, the Liberty Grand, and others.

Workers were locked out Friday morning following negotiations between the Board of Governors and the union, including meetings with the assistance of a provincially appointed mediator.

The union says Exhibition Place, which is owned by the City, had asked it to suspend picketing until after this year’s CNE, which runs from August 17 to September 3, however, Justin Antheunis, President of Local 58, says “that’s not going to happen” in a release.

Exhibition Place says it has a full contingency plan in place and that it will remain open for business including venue and site operations.

Ahead of Saturday’s Toronto Argonauts game, the team released an advisory for those heading to BMO Field to catch the action.

“Due to a labour dispute between Exhibition Place and IATSE Local 58, the Toronto Argonauts are encouraging their fans to take public transit to tomorrow’s game or consider alternate parking options outside of the Exhibition Place grounds as pickets are expected at entrances to the grounds,” they state.

Contingency event operation plans are in place to ensure all events at BMO Field, including Toronto Argonauts and Toronto FC games continue to operate as usual.

A spokesperson for the Canadian National Exhibition Association (CNEA) told Daily Hive Toronto it’s “disappointed” by the recent developments in the collective bargaining discussions between all parties involved.

“The CNEA is focused on ensuring that the 2018 CNE is our best fair yet, and we encourage all parties to return to the table and resolve these issues through collective bargaining.   To respect the process, we do not have any further comment on the lockout at this time.  We are concentrating on planning our great end-of-summer celebratory tradition, which opens August 17th.”

This lockout follows Radiohead holding a moment of silence at its Toronto concert Thursday night for a non-union drum tech that was killed at Downsview Park in 2012.

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