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City, transit workers remain at loggerheads

The city and its transit workers have moved a step closer to a possible strike or lockout affecting city bus service.

At last Friday’s first scheduled day of conciliation between the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1189, the ATU “attended with only half its bargaining team,” said a city hall news release.

“Based on that, it is the city’s belief that there was no intent on ATU’s part to negotiate towards a positive settlement at this time,” the release said.

As a result, the provincially appointed conciliator will request a “no board report” from the Minister of Labour on behalf of the City of Guelph, it said.

A no-board report reflects an inability to reach a settlement through bargaining.

The request for such a report is submitted to the Minister of Labour, who then typically issues a no-board report within three to five days, the release said. Negotiations can continue for 16 days after such a report is received from the labour minister.

“Five confirmed days for negotiation with the conciliator have already been scheduled throughout June,” the release said.

“From 16 days after receipt, both parties are in the position to continue to bargain, and will also be in a legal position to strike or lockout.”

Guelph Transit employees “play an important role at the City of Guelph and provide a vital service to the community,” the release said.

“The city strongly believes in competitively compensating transit employees for their work and remains committed to negotiating a fair contract that balances this with long-term affordability for Guelph taxpayers.”

Since last fall, bargainers from the city and the ATU have met on 16 days to negotiate the terms of a new contract for the city’s 205 Guelph Transit employees, it said. The 205 full- and part-time employees include bus drivers, vehicle technicians and others.

The city asked the province in March to appoint a conciliator to help with the ATU negotiations. “We are hopeful that with the assistance of a conciliator, we will avoid a labour disruption that would have serious impacts on the thousands of people in our community who rely on transit to access employment, education, medical appointments and more,” Mayor Karen Farbridge said in the March news release announcing the request for a conciliator.

On May 21, the ATU issued a news release saying it is losing hope that a new contract agreement can be reached with the city. The city’s last contract with ATU Local 1189 expired almost a year ago.

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