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Union says buses may stay parked

The city’s latest contract offer will be overwhelmingly rejected when the 2,300 striking OC Transpo employees vote on it Thursday, according to many union members coming out of an information session yesterday.

The city’s latest contract offer will be overwhelmingly rejected when the 2,300 striking OC Transpo employees vote on it Thursday, according to many union members coming out of an information session yesterday.

“It should lose by around 90 per cent. That’s what it looks like,” said one OC Transpo employee after the meeting. “It’s going to be just as strong or even better than last time. The members understand what we lose and what we gain here.”

Almost 2,000 members packed the hall at St. Elias church for a closed-door meeting to hear from union leaders.

Amalgamated Transit Union International vice-president Randy Graham said if the vote had been taken yesterday, a large majority of members would have rejected the offer.

“There was not much of a difference from the first offer. That was concurred with by many of our members today and that will be reflected when we speak to you on Thursday,” said Graham.

Outside the meeting, no OC Transpo employees suggested they would accept the city’s latest offer. Many shouted “No!” as they left the meeting.

At the city’s request, federal Labour Minister Rona Ambrose ordered the union to hold the vote before Jan. 9. Ottawa city buses have been parked since Dec. 10 and there has been little indication either side has moved toward resolving the strike.

ATU Local 279 president Andre Cornellier said members showed yesterday they are prepared to dig in for the long haul.

“They will speak on Thursday. Whatever that vote is will say, ‘Yes, we are prepared,’ or ‘No, we’re not prepared,’” said Cornellier.

A strong No vote should encourage the city and the union to return to the negotiating table, Cornellier said.

The vote will be held Thursday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Results will be announced late Thursday.

 
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