After meeting behind closed doors for over nine “very productive” hours yesterday, city council will meet again today to discuss the 37-day-old transit strike.
“Council appreciates how important this issue is to the public and we assure you that we are committed to reaching a negotiated settlement as soon as possible,” said Mayor Larry
O’Brien, adding the
The in-camera session consisted of numerous presentations and questioning, O’Brien said. Today’s meeting will also begin behind closed doors.
Representatives of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 279 were hoping to present their side of the scheduling issue, which has become a primary sticking points in negotiations, but waited until 8:45 p.m. when the meeting recessed.
“We still don’t know if they want to hear from us, so we’ll come back tomorrow,” said ATU scheduling representative Craig Watson.
When council voted to remove the public from the gallery, several people waited outside council chambers shouting “shame,” while a few Ottawa Police Service officers stood by the group.
Slowly, senior union members moved upset co-workers to Jean Pigott Hall.
“We were all here to voice our opinions and listen in,” said Tony Mitchell, a driver with 29 years experience. “I was upset about council kicking everybody out and having a closed session.”
Outside council chambers, ATU 279 president Andre Cornellier said the union was anxious to get back to the bargaining table and blamed the city for leaving the buses parked for over a month now.
“That is their responsibility to the taxpayers, to the people that are suffering, to the businesses. Don’t blame the union,” he said. “We are here to fight for our right to bargain in good faith and that’s what we’re doing.”