York Region says striking transit workers are participating in “unlawful picketing” and it is now seeking a court injunction against Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Locals 113 and 1587.
The 560 striking workers have been intensifying their job action by “occupying” buses, limiting space for transit users.
The injunction is necessary to ease the effect workers are having on the remaining 40 per cent of YRT routes remaining in operation, according to region officials. The region says it recognizes the workers’ right to picket during the strike, but also says “illegal blockages by picketers have created unsafe conditions for transit users, motorists and pedestrians.”
The injunction was filed in the Superior Court and makes several allegations against the union, including the following:
- Passengers forcibly being held on buses;
- Harassment and intimidation of drivers and passengers;
- Unsafe picketing (including picketers being struck by vehicles); and
- Unsafe and unlawful blockades of transit vehicles.
The injunction will make things easier for transit riders and allow the union to continue its right to strike, according to the region.
Earlier this month, York Region announced it would not intervene with the ongoing dispute but criticism has been increasing from frustrated transit users.
The injunction is expected to be heard on Dec. 28, 2011.
The main issues at the centre of the dispute are wages and benefits, including how much employees should pay for their own health-care package.
About 220 employees represented by ATU 113 are affected by the walkout, along with 340 drivers from ATU Local 1587, who operate YRT buses for Miller Transit and First Canada. The York Region Transit strike affects bus routes operated by companies contracted to supply service to Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. A number of routes are also affected in northern York Region. Wages, benefits and shift length are the main stumbling blocks in negotiations.