In fact, it could be at least two weeks before the conflict is resolved, according to city manager Kent Kirkpatrick. Why?
Well, council passed a motion that suggested they might renegotiate scheduling for drivers, but there are some caveats. It can't make the system less safe or reliable, and it can't cost the city more than its last offer. Importantly, though, the City made no attempt to find savings that could take scheduling off the table.
The same motion approved hiring an independent fact-finder -- so long as the union agrees (and maybe even if it doesn't) -- to write a report that explains to the union exactly what the City's latest offer means in its section about scheduling and booking.
If the union agrees to hire the individual, it will take some time to get the report written. Hence the two-week minimum for the strike's resolution.
But it's important to the City, evidently, as OC Transpo manager Alain Mercier claimed the union's understanding of that part of the city's offer is fundamentally flawed.
Also in the same motion, by the way, the City also took a $2,500 signing bonus for union members off the table, pending the scheduling re-negotiations.
Union leadership, as readers might expect, lamented councillors' decision to not fundamentally alter their bargaining strategy. (Even Capital Ward councillor Clive Doucet backed down from his counterparts around the table, apologizing to Mayor Larry O'Brien for unfairly criticizing the city's strategy).
All in all, Ottawans are seemingly still left in the dust. There are no indications that the union will accept the validity of the fact-finder or, even if they are hired, his or her ultimate findings.
The City's approach drew criticism from some quarters that were "baffled" by the City's approach, which seemed less conciliatory and just as hard-lined as before all the in-camera presentations and questions and answers (That same Citizen columnist tempered his views somewhat in an update to that post).
At the same meeting, council also approved a 10-point strategy to bring riders back after the strike. The Ottawa Sun outlined them in a story this morning:
Council also decided to meet weekly during the strike. If we can swing it, TransitOttawa.ca is going to try to liveblog every one of those meetings until the strike is over. Hey, it could happen.
- Waive April's transit fare increase
- Ecopass credit for one month and more
- December transit passes be valid for one month and more
- Rebate and discount on next purchase of student semester pass, student annual pass and annual adult pass
- Consideration of two for one ticket credit
- Free transit service for first few days
- Free transit service evenings and on weekends
- Free O-Train service
- Promotional offers for businesses, museums, recreational facilities and other organizations
- Customer and employee appreciation events