May 14, 2019 11:13 am
Updated: May 15, 2019 2:25 pm

Winnipeg transit drivers caught between union, management on ‘Free Ride Day’

WATCH: It was meant to be a form of job action in protest of ongoing contract disputes with the City of Winnipeg, but not all buses appeared to be on board.

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A threatened job action by Winnipeg Transit drivers appears to be hit or miss.

The transit union said Monday its drivers wouldn’t be collecting fares Tuesday in protest of the ongoing disputes over its collective bargaining agreement – calling it legal job action.

But whether you didn’t pay seems to have been up to the bus driver.

READ MORE: Winnipeg transit union planning free rides as job action begins

According to numerous reports from transit riders, and riders on social media, some drivers were still enforcing the rules, while others were covering the pay censors or had a sign up that said “free rides.”

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A person claiming to be a bus driver posted on social media site Reddit, saying drivers were being told two different things.

“The union is strongly suggesting we don’t ENFORCE the fare to put pressure on the city for negotiations. Management / the city does not seem to like the idea, but that’s the idea of a strike/job action. If they liked it, then we would be doing something wrong,” they said.

“Management has hinted that we could get in trouble if we don’t enforce it, so we’re in a pickle right now.”

One bus driver told Global News off-camera that about 60 per cent of people were not paying. Winnipeg Transit collects about $145,000 daily in fares, not including monthly or weekly bus passes, said a city spokesperson.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Transit Plus bus repaired after photo of driver tying door closed with rope draws criticism

Mayor Brian Bowman told 680 CJOB that the proposed protest isn’t considered legal job action, and that the city is going to the Manitoba Labour Board.

“The city’s position is that they’re not in a strike position to take the kind of job action that we’re seeing today, so we made an application yesterday to the Manitoba Labour Board for an order, injunction or other remedy as a result,” said Bowman.

“The action they’re taking today constitutes a strike, and it has not been authorized by their membership.”

But ATU Local 1505 president Aleem Chaudhary said that “100 per cent wrong.

“We are within our rights and strike sanctions. We asked our members for strike sanctions and our membership authorized us to do strike sanctions and we are doing them.”

The transit union continues to sit without a contract.

The biggest issue isn’t money, said Chaudhary, but instead his members are more concerned about “overall working conditions, that’s all I’m going to say at this point.”

Both Bowman and Chaudhary said they hope to settle this at sit-down talks in the future.

WATCH: Winnipeg transit union planning free rides as legal job action begins

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