Driver safety paramount in contract negotiations, says Winnipeg transit union president

Winnipeg Transit Union boss Aleem Chaudhary.
Winnipeg Transit Union boss Aleem Chaudhary. Rudi Pawlychyn / Global News

Winnipeg’s transit union says safety is the top priority as contract negotiations continue with the city.

The union – which has been without a collective bargaining agreement since January – has also bristled against the City’s plan to add part-time workers, which wouldn’t allow for benefits.

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

Last month, 98 per cent of union members voted against the latest offer from the city.

Amalgamated Transit Union 1505 president Aleem Chaudhary told 680 CJOB the negotiations are ongoing.

“We’re basically right now quite a ways apart from reaching an agreement, unfortunately,” he said. “We would like to get a contract done that would be fair for both sides, to our members, and also to the taxpayers.”

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Chaudhary said driver safety is key to the union’s demands. The city recently started installing safety shields, which will eventually be set up in all 630 city buses, and while the union supports that first step, they say there’s more to be done.

“Safety is the number one priority. It’s non-negotiable,” said Chaudhary. “Everybody has a right to a safe work environment, and unfortunately we don’t have it.

“Most of our demands that we’re asking for are revolving around safety, and one of them is the working conditions themselves. That would be scheduling and providing the service that we’re out there to provide – a timely service with the frequency that’s needed to get people where they want to go, to work or home.

“We want to be able to do that without having any safety problems for our operators.”

The City has said its most recent offer was a final offer, but Chaudhary said the union is still ready to negotiate.

“The city has applied for a conciliator. We’re quite a ways apart, but we’re willing to sit down and talk to them anytime.”

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