Bus strike over - Metro US

Bus strike over

After 51 days, Ottawa’s transit strike is finally over.

Mayor Larry O’Brien, Amalgamated Transit Union international vice-president Randy Graham and ATU 279 president Andre Cornellier announced Thursday evening they had tentatively agreed to send all outstanding issues, including scheduling, to binding arbitration without any preconditions.

“The federal government of Canada has started the process of back-to-work legislation,” said O’Brien. “When both parties realized that the end of the strike was inevitable, both parties decided it was time to get back to work.”

Graham said they could not give exact timelines on when the buses will return.

“We’re anxious to get the service back on the street,” he said. “We’re going to work together to ensure that it happens as fast as possible.”

Although the agreement brings an end to the strike, there is still no resolution to the contract dispute.

Graham said those issues are still significantly different, but they will now be resolved by a third party.

Previously, the city had insisted that any binding arbitration decision would not increase the cost of the contract offer and the scheduling system must conform to federal work-rest safety regulations. Last week, the union had offered to send all issues to arbitration with the exception of scheduling, which they wanted handled by an independent fact-finder.

O’Brien said he was confident the arbitration process will result in a fair offer for both sides, but the city would continue to work with Transport Canada to ensure “an appropriate review” of public safety rules pertaining to drivers.

City council will meet on Friday to discuss the deal. More details on when bus service will return are expected after that meeting.

Coun. Maria McRae, chair of the Transportation Committee, said she was optimistic some bus service would return by next week.

“My No. 1 priority, now that the strike is over, is to get the buses back on the road. Get our riders back on the buses, and we have to re-establish relationship with our operators,” she said.

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