Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ottawa Transit Strike Day 44: News and notes

In what might be surprising news (readers, is it really?), reports that at least some drivers are apparently not opposed to turning their service into an essential one:

The vast majority of striking transit workers would like Ottawa's transit services to be declared essential, a driver walking the picket line said Thursday morning, the 44th day of the strike.

"I think about 99 per cent of us would love it to be essential service," said Tony Mitchell, who has been driving transit buses for 29 years and is on strike for the third time.

Asked about concessions that would have to be made under such circumstances, Mitchell was conciliatory:

"Well, maybe we'll have to sacrifice on certain things regarding the schedule, but at least both sides would be doing it, both sides would … have to give a little bit," he said.

Both the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun run stories about the transit strike today, but it seems more out of habit than necessity. Anyways, some news and notes:

The Citizen reports:

Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley says ministry staff are working with OC Transpo officials to determine how long it will take to return service to pre-strike levels.

A total of 287 buses (of a fleet of 1,025) are due for a mandatory six-month provincial safety inspection by the end of January.

Mr. Bradley would not say yesterday whether he would postpone the safety inspections to allow a quicker rollout of buses.

Yesterday, the Citizen quoted federal labour minister Rona Ambrose as unwilling to get involved in the strike. Today, the Sun elicited a response from a local Tory MP:

Carleton-Mississippi Mills Conservative MP Gordon O'Connor said back-to-work legislation isn't the best way to end the strike and urged both sides to hammer out a solution.

"To bring it up to the federal level, to bring in legislation, we have to go through a whole legislative process which is quite long," he said.

Also in the Sun, this little tidbit about the City's emergency fund:

...councillors voted unanimously to add $500,000 to the emergency fund to help those hardest hit by the strike. Earlier this week, the city announced the $200,000 it had originally set aside is running out.

Oh, and the Sun's Susan Sherring is really pissed off with the City for even debating a rebate to those who pay for a transit Eco-Pass, which is deducted directly from their paycheques.

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