The union representing Peterborough Transit says preparations are underway for potential job action beginning this weekend in Peterborough, Ont.
Strike signs are stacked up inside the office of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1320, which represents about 125 transit workers in Peterborough. The union and city are returning to the bargaining table Thursday and Friday to resolve ongoing contract negotiations.
By Saturday, workers will be in a legal strike position if a deal is not reached. The union says it will provide notice if they intend to strike.
“Our members are fired up and ready to go and it’s time to get real,” said Cory MacLeod, president of Local 1320. “We don’t want to leave people out in the cold. The last thing we want is a strike. So our message is, ‘Where is the fairness?'”
The union says it has made concessions on wages and alleges the city isn’t willing to negotiate. MacLeod says his side isn’t able to make any more sacrifices. Wages and length of working hours remain unresolved, he says.
“You used to be able to come in for an eight-hour day, stay for an eight-hour day and get paid for an eight-hour day,” he said. “Now people are getting paid for an eight-hour day, they’re staying here for 11,12 hours sometimes.”
A city staff report shows the transit service carried 3.8 million people in 2017. Statistics on current ridership were not immediately available.
The city says it remains hopeful it can avoid the first transit strike since 2005. Locking out employees is not being considered, the city says.
“We are committed to achieving an agreement that is fair and reasonable for our employees and Peterborough residents,” stated chief administrative officer Jasbir Raina. “We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached to avoid a work stoppage and its impact on transit customers.”
Both sides have been negotiating since May. The city says there were only seven negotiating days completed during that period. Contract talks broke down in mid-September, after which transit union members voted 99 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.
On Nov. 1, the Ministry of Labour issued a “no-board” report, meaning conciliation will not be used to resolve the issues.
McLeod says once negotiations wrap up Friday, the union will take the final offer back to members to vote on. If the deal is rejected, the 103 full-time staff and 20 part-time employees could be on the picket line as early as next Monday.
– with files from Robert Lothian/Global News Peterborough