Monday, December 8, 2008

Talks break off, transit strike seems likely

The Ottawa Sun is the first mainstream news source to report that talks between the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) that represents the OC Transpo drivers and support workers have broken off. According to the story, the City's most recent offer "wasn't good enough":
“We’re far part on a certain issues. They are very important to us and I guess they are very important to them,” said Andre Cornellier, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union local.


The main points are scheduling, contracting out work and, when it comes right down to it, respect and dignity said Cornellier.
On his blog, Mayor Larry O'Brien discussed the possibility of a transit strike, and also the difficulty presented with trying to reward City-paid staff while also being fiscally responsible.
"We have hard working and professional drivers. In conversations with them I believe all concerned think the city’s financial offer is fair, so the question is why would there be a strike? What is the disagreement? The City takes its responsibility in public transit very seriously. We have to.

"There are a number of non-financial issues at the heart of the current negotiations. Without going into details one of the issues is about our management having the tools to improve operations of the transit system such as control of shift management and employee scheduling.

"Without these important tools the City loses much of the flexibility we need to manage the system in an economically efficient manner.


"It is always hard to find the balance between rewarding the drivers for outstanding service and looking after the interests of taxpayers."
As I understand it, one of those "important tools" that O'Brien alludes to is the freedom to contract out work when deemed appropriate.

As it stands now, though, it appears there will be strike beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning.


Pawkeshup said...

Well, looks like I'll be getting a lot of exercise or racking up taxi cab rides. And if the drivers think this will get them pity, they are completely wrong!

Klaus said...

Comments left on CBC and CTV web sites are overwhelmingly against OC Transpo drivers.

And this in the middle of exam week. A great real-life lesson for students on the power of unions over the little guy.

Anonymous said...

This may be a rumour but I heard it from a guy who heard from a guy who heard from a bus driver. Apparently the drivers are planning on picketing City of Ottawa parking lots and the snow removal vehicles' garages rather than OC offices. I guess they think that people dying in car accidents on the way to work are acceptable casualties in their war against the City.
They're really not doing a great job of winning over citizens and endearing themselves to our better natures.