May 13, 2019 8:44 am
Updated: May 13, 2019 7:56 pm

Winnipeg transit union planning free rides as job action begins

The president of Winnipeg's transit union, Aleem Chaudhary standing with members of his union promoting the union's job action scheduled for Tuesday May 13th, 2019.

Marek Tkach / Global News

Your bus ride Tuesday could be free thanks to the Winnipeg’s transit union.

The union has announced its members will be taking job action, as the union continues to sit without a contract.

WATCH: Winnipeg transit employees are taking job action tomorrow after five months without a contract. As Marek Tkach reports, it could cost the city big time.

“We’ve been without a contract since January of this year and our members want the city to get serious and treat our members with respect,” said Aleem Chaudhary, ATU 1505 President.

Its members overwhelmingly rejected the city’s offer over a month ago with 98 percent not in favour.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Transit Union rejects contract offer from city

The union says buses will continue to operate, however drivers will not force passengers to pay the fare.

However the city says transit operators are obliged to make sure riders pay the fare.

“It was unexpected to say the least but we’re confident that our employees will do their jobs,” says the city’s Chief Cooperate Officer Michael Jack.

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“Since we serve the public, we don’t want to disturb the public’s lives or upset them at all whatsoever,” Chaudhary told 680 CJOB on Monday.

“People have to get to work. They’re dependent on a paycheque. Also, their daily activities – we don’t want to hinder that.”

Mayor Brian Bowman said Monday negotiations were “productive” over the past several weeks, but ATU 1505 cancelled today’s meeting.

He said the interruption to the meeting schedule and the planned action by transit drivers came as a surprise.

The city of Winnipeg says the failure to collect transit fares will cost the transit department $145,000 a day.

The Transit Union says the figure the city provided is considerably low.

“They’ve been very clear with the public and their members that they do not have strike sanction as a result of the last vote,” said Jack.

“So to be encouraging their members to take job action tomorrow runs afoul of that. We remain confident that our employees are going to do their jobs.”

WATCH: Winnipeg councilors debating future of low income bus pass

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