The union representing Ontario's GO Transit workers says unless an agreement can be made with management, the new date its members will go on strike is Oct. 24, 2011.
The announcement was made on the heels of an Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ruling that declared the Essential Services Agreement (ESA) the two parties signed earlier this year valid.
The union’s earlier strike deadline of Sept. 19, 2011 was delayed after Metrolinx, the company that manages GO Transit, requested the OLRB review whether the ESA the two parties reached in March 2011 was legal.
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1587, which represents the transit company’s 1,500 bus drivers, technicians, station attendants and service staff, insisted the ESA clearly outlined that no job within the bargaining unit was deemed “essential” and that “all bargaining unit employees have the right to strike.” However, Metrolinx disagreed.
The board decision found that the "late blooming attempt" by Metrolinx to unilaterally invalidate the ESA was "inherently suspect," that the union "did nothing to deserve such action by Metrolinx," and that the board "had no difficulty in appreciating why the union was outraged," according to an ATU release.
"We are not looking for a strike but it seems that only the threat of one makes any impression on management,” says ATU Local 1587 president Ray Doyle. "We want a negotiated agreement and we will bargain around the clock for that, if necessary."
If an agreement can't be reached by midnight on Oct. 23, GO bus service, which carries about 40,000 people a day, will be suspended.
The two parties disagree on wages and working conditions. There has never been a strike in GO’s 40-year history.
York Region Transit drivers also set Oct. 24 strike date
ATU Local 1587 also represents about 330 York Region Transit (YRT) drivers who also remain without a contract. The First Student Transit and Miller employees are following their GO transit colleagues by also setting an Oct. 24 strike deadline.
First Student Transit and Miller operate buses for YRT in the towns of Markham and Richmond Hill.
Key issues in negotiations are not known, but Doyle has previously commented that YRT operators are among the lowest paid in the GTA.
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