Jan 14, 2009

Strike deadlock

The transit strike in Ottawa continues, with no end in sight. After last week's forced government run vote, the last offer from the city was voted down with 75 per cent against. I would call that a very decisive.  Later after the union said the city has not provided enough room for movement, a federal mediator has since come to conclusion that talks will not resume.

"We're allowing that whole [transit] service to just die on the vine for now well over a month for what? A $3.4-million scheduling dispute — I mean, that's close to irresponsible." __ Councilor Clive Doucet.

The city is saving about $3 million a week in salaries, fuel and maintenance of the buses. Economic analysts say so far the strike has cost the local economy $280 million and thousands of jobs. Councilor Doucet is the only one to break rank with a previous united city council. I did say in a previous post that negotiations might not be in the city's plans. So far the city has proven me right. Councilor Doucet said he wants all the transit costs saved by the city during the strike to go back into free transit once the conflict ends.

Meanwhile Operation Lift in the small city of Brantford Ontario, has entered into it's fourth month of a strike. The city council is getting anxious to settle that dispute. Unfortunately the work is contract out so they have very little control but this is not preventing them from seeking a settlement. They are proposing that some councilors sit in on contract talks between Operation Lift and the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 685. They would be there only as as silent observers. The union that represent the 20 employees involved, support the move. The city pays more than 95 per cent of Operation Lift's $1.2-million operating budget and their hands are tied.

February 28, 2009 is date that the current contract agreement expires between CAW and DRT. Can we expect another transit strike in Durham Region this time around? That is a difficult one to predict. I say because the majority of people involved are left overs from the 2006 round of negotiations, the possibility is real.  This will not involve the transit in Whitby, as this portion of transit is contracted out and comes under a different labour agreement.

Related Links:

Ottawa councilor slams city's transit bargaining team
Councilors scrutinize strike
A very different strike in 1919

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