Friday, January 16, 2009

Ottawa Transit Strike: Day 38

If you followed our two-day, hours-long liveblog of City council proceedings that included 15 hours of in-camera meetings, then you will already know that a deal between the City and ATU 279 that would end the strike is nowhere near closer than it was at the beginning of the week.

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:

- 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

Council also decided to meet weekly during the strike. If we can swing it, is going to try to liveblog every one of those meetings until the strike is over. Hey, it could happen.


Anonymous said...

If they want to get students back on the buses and actually have a solid source of revenue, how about they revisit the U-Pass?

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is this...I am still waiting for the two parties to get back to the table...and after 5 weeks still no resolution!!!! But I am still waiting for my bus!

This fact finder is just another smoke screen to delay the inevitable which is both parties have to get back to the table!

Enough I say about finding solutions to go around finding costly solutions for the residents to get around. The only solution is to get back to the table and COMPROMISE, that means you Larry O'Brien and you André Cornellier!!!!