Winnipeg budgets no wage increase for transit staff

Workers could join almost 5,000 city employees with wage freeze

The City of Winnipeg is planning on offering its transit workers a zero per cent wage increase. Finance officials delivered the news after city council’s executive policy committee tabled the 2011 operating budget on Monday.

This is in line with what it is offering members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 500, who have provided their negotiators with a strike mandate. A strike deadline has not been set, but 4,649 members could walk off the job. They make up 49 per cent of the city’s workforce.

CUPE has been without a contract since the end of last year. Members voted in favour of striking in February 2011.

The city’s 1,318 transit workers, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1505, ended their contract in January 2011. ATU president Jim Girden emphasizes that labour negotiations have yet to begin, which could allow for modifications to any potential offers.

“I’ve been in this position before where I hear rumours from budget meetings, but the truth is we’re not across the table right now,” he says. “We’ll deal with this issue when the time comes.”

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