Approximately 15,000 carpenters in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sector have walked off the job, joining thousands of other construction workers in a number of trades who went on strike last week.

Members of the Ontario chapter of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America began the strike action at 12:01 a.m. after rejecting their employers’ latest contract offer.

The local says that the main issue of contention is wages.

“The consumer price index went up by 6.7 per cent last month right in the middle of negotiations and that is the issue of the day for our members,” Carpenter’s District Council of Ontario President and Director of Public Affairs and Innovation Mike Yorke told CP24. “Whether it is housing, whether it is groceries and putting food on the table, the cost of gas to get to work or in cities like Ottawa and Toronto you have to pay $25 or $30 a day for parking once you get to work. It all adds up. It is an affordability crisis, the cost of living is spiraling and we have got to think about the next generation. How do we ensure that the young men and women that we want to come in to build Ontario, how do we make sure this is a viable career for them?”

Yorke told CP24 that while the two sides remain far apart at the bargaining table and have “a ways to go” to reach a tentative agreement, he did say that the union has a good relationship with the employers and believes there is a deal to be had.

“We have had a provincewide collective agreement since the mid 70s. So our collective agreement is very mature and the language issues are largely dealt with. So fundamentally it is down to compensation and payment of wages,” he said.

The strike by carpenters in the ICI sector comes on the heels of six unions in the residential construction sector walking off the job last week.

Those unions represent approximately 15,000 additional construction workers.

The impacted trades include house framers, tile installers, carpet and hardwood installers and individuals who are involved with high rise forming work.

The Ontario Labour Relations Act currently stipulates that strikes or lockouts in the residential construction sector cannot exceed six weeks.