York Region transit strike looms

GO Transit maintains strike deadline

York Region Transit (YRT) workers have voted to reject management’slatest offer, leaving the door open to the possibility of a Sept. 24 strikeunless an agreement can be reached over the weekend.

UPDATE: York Region Transit drivers strike, GO drivers reach deal

The 220 workers represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local113, voted 100 per cent against the offers from management companies FirstStudent Transit and Miller. About 100 other YRT drivers represented by ATU Local1587 also rejected management’s offer.

The main stumbling blocks continue to be wages and benefits, according tothe union.

"We are so far behind the wage levelsof surrounding communities such as Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto, you'd think we were in a differentcountry," says ATU 113 president Bob Kinnear.“The company apparently has no intention of trying to close the huge wage gapby even a little."

Kinnear says he is willing to continuenegotiating over the weekend but doesn’t hold out much hope that a settlementcan be reached.

A notice on the YRT website says ridersshould check the yrt.ca website to find out the status of the transit system ifa strike takes place.

First Student Transit and Miller operatebuses for YRT in the towns of Markham and Richmond Hill.

GO Transit strike deadline remains

Meanwhile, bus drivers at GO Transit, alsorepresented by ATU 113 and 1587, are also maintaining their Sept. 24 strikedeadline. Discussions between the unions and management stalled earlier thisweek.

"No wage offer beyond a zero per centincrease has been forthcoming from the company, so it is difficult to see howthis is going to be resolved,” said ATU Local 1587 president Ray Doyle."The cost of living has gone up, management salaries have gone up, but thefrontline workers are apparently entitled to nothing."

The union set the Sept. 24 strike deadlineafter Metrolinx, the company that manages GO Transit, was reprimanded by theOntario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) for delaying a strike after the companyrequested the board review whether the Essential Services Agreement the twoparties reached in March 2011 was legal.

The union claims Metrolinx was preventinga strike during the Ontario provincial election.

If the two parties are unable to reach an agreement,GO bus service, which carries about 40,000 people a day, will be suspended.This would be the first strike in GO’s 40-year history.

The two parties disagree on wages andworking conditions. 

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