The City of Ottawa is asking a federal conciliator to help draft an agreement with its bus drivers and mechanics. City officials say they have no choice because OC Transpo union representatives refuse to meet for negotiations after five invitations to do so.
The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 279, which represents the city’s 2,500 transit workers, says they refuse to meet to bargain a new contract until scheduling issues in the previous agreement are sorted out. They say that the system that details how drivers would be assigned and how long shifts would be was what delayed a settlement in the previous negotiations.
In early 2009, OC Transpo workers were on strike for 54 days. Both parties have stated that they hope to avert a similar situation this time around as it is costly for both the city and transit workers.
Ottawa says that moving to the conciliation process at this time is a natural progression, while the union is viewing it as counterproductive.
Transit workers are still working under the agreement signed after the 2009 strike, which expired on March 31.