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Table, two chairs, a sandwich and a bucket

Five weeks ago, I wrote a chipper, optimistic column about our plucky citizenry braving the tribulations of this transit strike. Forget everything I wrote. Uncle. Enough. Make it stop.

Five weeks ago, I wrote a chipper, optimistic column about our plucky citizenry braving the tribulations of this transit strike. Forget everything I wrote. Uncle. Enough. Make it stop.

I made one prediction that just gets better with age: “How long will this (strike) last? Your guess is as good as mine, and my guess is about three weeks.”

It’s now Day 38, about 30 below, and more than a quarter-billion dollars is estimated to have frozen and snapped off the local economy.

The pointless contest between OC Transpo, the City of Ottawa and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 to see which side can endure more of our pain, continues. It turns out they can endure quite a bit.

And nobody’s talking.

The City of Ottawa has perhaps been too busy buying newspaper ads and commissioning a poll to tell us what we think — apparently, 65 per cent of us believe the union are bigger bastards than the city. Boys, boys: You’re both huge bastards, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

The city’s strategy is multi-pronged: Whine to the feds, complain to the media, hold marathon in-camera council meetings and even the occasional chat with a mediator. They’re trying everything, in fact, except actually talking to the union. The last contact was Dec. 23.

Of course, it takes two to quango, and this week ATU international vice-president Randy Graham told the media the union would return to the table if there’s an “opportunity for real dialogue.” Not to presume, Randy, but showing up might provide just that opportunity.

Control over driver schedules is often identified as the stickiest point in these non-negotiations. When it comes to scheduling a meeting, though, both sides have proven they can’t be trusted, resulting in weeks of dead air.

I propose the following: Each side picks a representative. Both representatives — and this is the crazy part — are to be put in a room together.

The room will be furnished with two chairs. One of you will sit in each chair. We’ll also add a “bargaining table,” if you like.

Under the table, you’ll find a bucket. That’s for both of you. We will empty it daily when we bring in the sandwich. Can’t agree on how to share the sandwich? No sandwich.

You will be here all day, every day, for as long as it takes. You don’t have to talk, but it’s the only way out, and there’s nothing better to do.

Make some headway and we’ll send in a couple beers. We’re not savages. Now have a seat.

 
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