Monday, January 26, 2009

Negotiations set to resume Monday

Two days after Ottawa City Council met in private to discuss how to handle the 48-day-old transit strike, and decided to explore a "substantial" change in their bargaining position (according to the Ottawa Citizen), the two sides are expected to head back into negotiations.

As a result, according to another article from the Citizen, the Union is prepared to listen to the city's offer on Monday morning:
Randy Graham, the union’s international vice-president, confirmed the meeting with a federal mediator and city representatives, but said he still doesn’t know the details of the city’s new bargaining position.

“I’m going to go and listen to what they have to say,” Mr. Graham said. “We’re just going to see what’s there.”

[...]

When reached for comment, union boss AndrĂ© Cornellier did not sound optimistic that the city’s new position would be enough to get a deal done.

“Oh wow, ‘substantial,’ I can’t wait. I’m just drooling, I can’t wait to see what those are,” he said.

He reiterated that the union is committed to ending the strike and restoring transit service.

“We gave them a proposal where they could have had the buses out on the street over a week ago and they decided not to,” he said.
Although it's unclear what, exactly, the City has decided to change in their bargaining, they have stated their absolute commitment to at least one change: That the new contract respects federal work-rest regulations:

Ottawa’s transit system, one of the few in the country to fall under federal rather than provincial jurisdiction, is currently exempt from federal safety regulations for driver work and rest.

On Saturday, council passed a resolution that the final settlement package must satisfy those rules.

If Transport Minister John Baird were to apply the safety rules to Ottawa’s transit system, the city would have its minimum rest requirements: drivers would be subject to a 14-hour maximum day, at least eight hours rest after a shift and at least one day off every 14 days.
The article also mentioned a demonstration, organized by community advocate Catherine Gardner, to encourage the federal government to ensure that the OC Transpo is required to meet work-rest rules. The demonstration begins at City Hall at 10:30, and then works its way to Parliament Hill.

2 comments:

Dean Gillis said...

Hard to abuse the overtime scheduling system with federal rules. Can we guess the union's position? Is the union gonna argue that spending days in dense city traffic is less tiring and stressful than the highway?
Are they gonna argue truck drivers have it easier than them?

Anonymous said...

Cornellier has such a bad attitude about these negotiations. "I’m just drooling, I can’t wait to see what those are."
I'm of two minds right now. I want this strike to be over as soon as possible. But I've come to hate Cornellier in the past seven weeks and don't want him to become a hero when this strike is over. Also, if the City is just going to give in on all the union's demands anyway, why couldn't they have done it seven weeks ago? I guess they've saved up money for themselves while they passed the buck on to the rest of us...