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Bus schedules could be affected this week as STM workers ramp up pressure tactics

Click to play video: 'STM workers’ pressure tactics could affect Montreal commuters'
STM workers’ pressure tactics could affect Montreal commuters
WATCH: Thousands of STM maintenance workers will work to rule this week as part of an ongoing labour dispute. As Global's Gloria Henriquez reports, public transit schedules could be affected for Montreal commuters – May 7, 2018

Taking the bus this week? Your schedule could be affected, as thousands of STM maintenance workers are not doing overtime for the next six days.

The move is a pressure tactic as workers are at the bargaining table with the public transit agency.

The main sticking points are forced overtime and scheduling.

The STM says it wants more flexibility to schedule its employees. The agency also wants to be able to force more daytime workers to do evening or night shifts when many buses are off the road and in the garage ready to be worked on.

Currently, instead of doing night shifts, day shift workers have pre-planned overtime scheduled to cover the maintenance schedule.

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But workers say the employer’s demands are too high and affect their work-life balance. The union says the solution is for the STM to hire more people.

The two sides have been negotiating for months. In February, the union representing 2,400 maintenance employees voted in favour of a rotating strike mandate.

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Commuters brace for changes

As a result of the pressure tactic, the STM is advising commuters to check its website and social media accounts for any schedule changes before heading out the door.

Some Montrealers who rely on public transit hope the issue is quickly resolved.

“I think they should try to work out a contract that’s fair but the priority is having a good stable, reliable, public transit system,” said Sabile Triamm.

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Others, such as Christine Gagnon, have already made alternative plans to avoid delays.

“I’ll take my bike,” she said.

Contract talks with drivers also underway

The pressure tactic comes as the STM also negotiates with other employees.

Montreal bus drivers, Metro conductors and ticket agents voted 99 per cent in favour of a strike mandate last Thursday.

The sticking point for drivers: speed limits have been lowered across the island for safety but the route schedules haven’t been changed to match.

The vote for a mandate allows workers to use pressure tactics until a deal is reached, with the possibility of a general strike if drivers opt for one. If they do so, they are forced to give the STM seven days notice.

Essential services, such as transit during rush hour and adapted transit, will still be provided.

— with files from Global’s Elysia Bryan-Baynes and Kalina Laframboise

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